Trescothick shows what England miss

Somerset 323 for 8 dec and 156 for 4 dec (Trescothick 107*) drew with Warwickshire 261 (Frost 94, Trott 79, Willoughby 4-37, Thomas 4-72)

There was something both magnificent and poignant about the sight of Marcus Trescothick butchering the bowling at Edgbaston on the final day of the Championship match against Warwickshire. While it's impossible not to marvel at Trescothick's batting, it's also hard not to think about what might have been.

For while England struggled to save the fourth Test in Leeds, Trescothick provided another demonstration of the tremendous ability that might, but for cruel fortune, have helped England regain the Ashes. How England could do with him at The Oval.

To say Trescothick dominated here is an understatement. His century - his second of the game - contained a barrage of thunderous drives, an array of murderous slog sweeps and a selection of dismissive pulls and cuts that intimidated the bowlers in a way very few can. And while he made an increasingly brutal 107, his colleagues struggled to prosper against the moving ball and could muster only 37 between them. He might just be the best batsman Somerset have ever produced.

The stats don't quite back up that claim. Somewhat surprisingly, Trescothick's career average remains below 40. Yet, since he retired from international cricket and found peace at Taunton, his consistency has been remarkable. From the start of 2007 he averages a fraction under 60 in first-class cricket. England's loss is Somerset's gain. And he's still improving.

Certainly he's enjoying a remarkable season. He has now passed 50 in 12 of his 18 championship innings and amassed six centuries. He's been dismissed in the 90s four times, too. This was the second time in his career that he had scored a century in each innings. The other occasion was also at Edgbaston, in a Test against the West Indies in 2004.

Trescothick's innings enlivened an otherwise prosaic day at Edgbaston. Though Somerset were keen to reach an agreement might have engineered a fourth-innings run-chase, Warwickshire were having none of it.

Trescothick punished their conservatism. There were times - such as the ferocious straight drive that almost took the head off the bowler, Rikki Clarke, and brought up his century (100 balls, 15 fours and a six) that - when the close fielders appeared in danger, though at other times - such as a delightful late cut off Ant Botha - when Trescothick showed his class and range.

Conditions were not easy for batting. With Boyd Rankin bowling with pace and Warwickshire's remaining bowlers finding movement, none of the other batsman could manage more than 11. Arul Suppiah was undone by bounce, James Hildreth cut to point, Zander de Bruyn missed a sweep and Crag Kieswetter fell over a straight one.

Earlier Andy Caddick and Alfonso Thomas bowled unchanged through the first session to precipitate a sharp decline in Warwickshire's innings. At one stage Thomas, bowling a probing line and gaining sharp movement off the seam and in the air, claimed three wickets in seven balls without conceding a run, as Warwickshire lost their last seven wickets for the addition of just 58 runs.

By then Jonathan Trott and Tony Frost had made the game safe, however. The pair added 142 in 28 overs before Frost, with a century in sight, edged a beauty that bounced and left him. Tim Ambrose could not capitalise on his first ball let-off and edged an outswinger, before Clarke was brilliantly caught by a diving Kieswetter off the next delivery.

Caddick also bowled well. He delivered 14 overs in succession, bowling Ant Botha with a full ball and inducing Trott to follow a wide one. It was a fine spell from a 40 year-old who retires in a few weeks with the possibility of being the last seamer with 1,000 first-class wickets and 10,000 overs under his belt. We may never see his like again.

The result consolidates Warwickshire's position in mid-table, but hammers another nail in Somerset's title aspirations. They now trial Durham by 22 points having played a game more, though the two sides do still have to meet at Chester-le-Street.

Warwickshire, meanwhile, have been boosted by the arrival of Sreesanth. The Indian fast bowler will make his debut in the Pro40 match against Leicestershire and then play in the Championship game at Trent Bridge starting on Tuesday.

Somerset 3rd innings Partnerships

1st23ME TrescothickAV Suppiah
2nd30ME TrescothickJC Hildreth
3rd72ME TrescothickZ de Bruyn
4th25ME TrescothickC Kieswetter
5th6ME TrescothickPD Trego