In the 2011 championship season he topped the averages with 1,673 runs at 79.66, and scored 290 more runs than anyone in either division. In 2010 he was the second-best Englishman, with 1397 at 58.2, and in 2009 was the highest scorer, and second in the averages, with a whopping 1817 at 75.7.
Making mincemeat of whatever bowling he faces, he is batting better now than ever. In the words of Ivo Tennant, who recently profiled him in The Cricketer magazine, “he is almost too good for county cricket”. So why isn’t Marcus Trescothick playing for England?
Banger’s stress-related illness and battle with depression have been well documented. After returning home, seriously unwell, from two England tours, he retired from international cricket in 2008. The final straw came when he suffered a panic attack at an airport when due to fly abroad for a Somerset pre-season warm-up. It was clear Tres could never tour again.
But does that really mean he can never play for the national side at home? Selection involves picking the best available players, and very often we choose different personnel for home and away series – for example, extra spinners in Asia, or tall pacemen for Australia. Tres could be our specialist home player.
There are obviously a wide range of arguments against this. It could be disruptive to the side, and admittedly our top order is currently very strong as it is. But Trott’s absence for most of the India tests would have been a perfect opportunity to bring Keynsham’s prodigal son back to the fold.
Instead they picked Bopara, who again disappointed. You always have to ask the question – who do the opposition not want to face? Would you rather bowl at Bopara – or Eoin Morgan for that matter – or Marcus Trescothick?
Another argument revolves around building for the future. But at 35, and in such imperious form, Tres has several productive years ahead of him still. Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are all older than him. Alec Stewart played till he was nearly 40. Ultimately, the key principle is that you select the players most likely to win you test matches.
A far more potent caveat is that Trescothick himself may not want to play. We don’t know how well he is, and he might be disinclined to undertake anything which could jeopardise his health or family life.
In August 2009, amid fevered speculation over who would replace Bopara for the final Ashes test, Tres publicly ruled himself out of the running. We should not read too much into that; such a modest man as he had no choice, for fear of appearing arrogant.
We don’t know what’s happened behind the scenes. It’s possible that the England management have approached him, only for Tres to decline. And if so, clearly we must respect his decision.
My instinct, however, is that England have ruled him out for other reasons. They don’t want to pick a player who cannot tour, nor bring a big-name outsider into a very tightly-knit dressing room, at the expense of a younger player they’re grooming for the future.
If so, they have judged wrongly. Marcus Trescothick is, all things considered, the most talented, effective and productive English-qualified batsman still playing. Emotionally, from a supporters’ point of view, his rightful place is in the England team.
Obviously, we only want what’s best for the man himself. But we’ll continue to harbour the dream that, perhaps against South Africa next summer, Banger will once again pull on the three lions shirt, and take Dale Steyn to the cleaners.