It wasn’t quite the fairytale that Marcus Trescothick had envisaged. Rained ruined the county championship finale at Taunton and cruelly denied Somerset the chance to win their first ever county championship title. They had to accept second place, for the sixth time this century, as Essex walked away with their second title in three years. Somerset have been waiting one hundred and twenty-eight years just for one.
Although nobody can deny that Essex were worthy champions – they lost just once this season whereas Somerset have lost three – it was impossible not to feel for Marcus in particular. A championship winning season would have been the perfect goodbye. Unfortunately few sportsmen enjoy a fairytale ‘so long’. You have to be charmed like Alastair Cook to be so fortunate.
The parallel careers of Trescothick and Cook are fascinating in many ways. Marcus had little luck. Alastair, on the other hand, enjoyed more than his fair share to stay fit for so long (and have so few rivals for his spot). Indeed, Cook’s luck was partly a consequence of Marcus’s ill fortune. One could argue that Cook wouldn’t have enjoyed such a long England career had Trescothick’s international aspirations not been curtailed by illness. There simply wouldn’t have been a vacancy at the top of the order.
Although one could argue that Sir Alastair might have found a different role – he might have batted 3 rather than opened for example (although that would have meant competing with Jonathan Trott), I severely doubt Cook would have played so many test matches had Trescothick and Strauss been able to continue their prolific opening partnership for longer.
The Cook and Strauss opening partnership was a good one. They scored 4711 runs together at an average of 41. But the Trescothick and Strauss partnership was on a different level altogether. They averaged a whopping 52.3 together in 52 inns, which is a higher average than the two most prolific opening partnerships in test history – Greenidge / Haynes (47) and Hayden / Langer 51.8.
There are sound cricketing reasons for this. In many ways Cook and Strauss were very similar players. Both played better off the back foot than they did off the front. Both had strike rates under 50 in test cricket; therefore they weren’t so difficult to bowl at. Trescothick was a better foil for Strauss because he drove magnificently and was less complicated. He often just stood there and thumped it. Marcus made batting look so uncomplicated.
Marcus Trescothick was quite an unusual product of English cricket – an attacking opener. He scored nearly 6000 test runs at an average of 44 and was often at his best against the South African pace attack. He played 76 tests at an average of 77 runs per test. Had he played 161 games like Cook (who also scored 77 runs per test) then one could argue that Cook’s records might have been his.
But at least England’s loss was someone’s gain. Somerset fans will be incredibly grateful for Trescothick’s mammoth career at county level. His domestic career spanned three decades with a debut back in 1993, when UB40’s I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You and Gabrielle’s Dreams were No.1 in the chart. And his last first class appearance was in June this year when Gabrielle was celebrating her fiftieth birthday.
Marcus’s overall county statistics are mighty ones: 26,000 first class runs at an average over 40, plus an additional 12,000 runs in List A games. That’s not quite Hick, Gooch, Gatting, and Ramprakash levels but it’s close. He also registered a combined 94 centuries in Somerset colours.
Although he hasn’t featured in Somerset’s first team often this year, I’ll miss Marcus greatly. We’ll still see him on Sky from time to time – he’s certainly one of the more amenable commentators around – and one hopes he can find a role within the England coaching set up. He spent time around the England squad before the Edgbaston and Lord’s tests this summer, so he’s certainly exploring this career path. One imagines he has much to offer, especially when it comes to dealing with the psychological demands of international cricket.
I’ll leave you with the grainy footage of Marcus Trescothick batting against Australia at Edgbaston in 2005. It contains several of those trademark thumping drives. He scored 14 test hundreds for England but this innings of 90 was amongst his best innings in international cricket because it changed the momentum of that series.
After England had been thrashed at Lord’s in the first test, Marcus came out all guns blazing in the second game and made England believe. He hammered Lee, Warne, and Gillespie to all parts and helped the team to score over 400 on day one. Trescothick showed that the Aussies were fallible after all. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Enjoy your retirement Marcus. You’ll be missed.