<
>

Trescothick equals Gimblett record, ploughs ever on

Somerset 244 for 3 (Trescothick 117*, Myburgh 54) trail Nottinghamshire 401 (Mullaney 165, Overton 5-54) by 157 runs
Scorecard

Marcus Trescothick has taken his place alongside Harold Gimblett as Somerset's most prolific century-maker in first-class cricket. The achievement has been counted down in the West Country for years and, if he recorded his 49th hundred in the gleaming white heat of Trent Bridge, it will be fervently hoped that the record happens to come his way at Taunton with the Quantocks shimmering in the haze and the chance to raise a glass to it with a post-match cider in the Ring of Bells.

In 17 previous matches at Trent Bridge, Trescothick had never made a hundred; last year he made a pair. When he walked off at the close of the second day, he had 117 to his name. He slowed markedly in the last hour, not just through weariness, although he was entitled to that, but through a recognition that he needed to be there on the morrow. At 244 for 3, Somerset still trail by 157 and they must face the legspin of Imran Tahir in the fourth innings. They will yearn for 500.

He has piled up three first-class hundreds in a fortnight, against the Pakistan tourists, Middlesex and now Nottinghamshire, delivering them with the unshowy sagacity of an experienced midwife delivering a child. His later period is bountiful, his strokeplay hale and hearty. His old England batting partner, Andrew Strauss, has won the argument for flatter pitches - at least for the moment - and he can't get out on them. It is to be hoped he sends a Christmas card.

At a time when the debate is variously about how the nation feels ignored by London's ruling elites, and cricket feels the financial lure of T20 city cricket, he symbolises a staunchness and goodness in the shires. A straight drive against Harry Gurney and a six into the midwicket stand - appealingly close - against Imran Tahir were among his most memorable moments.

Somerset fame has moved organically across more than half a century. Gimblett was from farming stock in Bicknoller, near Taunton, and Wisden, in making him a Cricketer of the Year in 1953 described him thus:

"His frame has always befitted a man brought up in farm life. Two years ago, when the scales showed a weight of 15st 4 ½ lbs, and he was finding difficulty in fielding the ball on the ground, he disciplined his diet in the same way as he had disciplined his inclination to hit every ball out of sight. He avoided everything which made fat and, denying himself butter, bread, potatoes and cakes, he reduced to 12 ½ st and has remained there. He found he could run about more easily."

Trescothick, of amiable shape and disposition, possesses a more modern approach to fitness, but at 40 he rarely moves from slip and his reflexes have remained up to the challenge. As reports suggested of Gimblett, there is a sense of guileless strength and wholesome strokeplay. It is tempting to push the comparison, but Gimblett was known as an uncomplicated hitter. Trescothick has been one of the best England batsmen of his generation.

His record-equalling hundred came on a satisfying Somerset day. With Nottinghamshire 311 for 4 overnight, they were up against it, and to take the last six wickets for 90 soon after lunch must have been as good as they dared hope. Craig Overton's resolve had much to do with that, four morning wickets bringing him figures of 4 for 54. If Somerset are to lay to rest relegation fears, Overton's ability to focus his aggression will be crucial.

Steven Mullaney already had a Championship-best score of 161 to his name overnight and he equalled his first-class best when he clipped the first ball of the day to the fine leg fence. But that was that as Overton forced a loose shot outside off stump. Samit Patel mistimed a pull to midwicket and lbws in successive balls accounted for Luke Fletcher, his nightwatchman duties stretched over a further 90 minutes, and Chris Read. Overton, returning with purpose after lunch, wrapped things up with two wicketkeeper catches.

It was a stonkingly hot day - the first undeniably "mustn't grumble" day of summer - and Fletcher's perspiring attempts to remove Trescothick early were diverting. Closer and closer Fletcher got to the outside edge - or felt he did. From Trescothick there was the same artful play inside the line, minimal movement, maximum judgment, 0.1 calories expended. An entire over passed this way. Fletcher mused about it, re-set his sights and, in the next over, hollered for a catch at the wicket. Not out. Trescothick was still playing inside the line. It was just that the "Bulwell Bomber" could no longer believe it. A fact he vehemently expressed.

In the heat of the afternoon, Trescothick and Johann Myburgh rattled up the first 100 at five an over, Myburgh, looking even more diminutive whenever Trescothick ambled up for an encouraging chat, driving neatly off the front foot in his 54 before Tahir, in his second over, bowled him with a big legbreak.

Trescothick towelled the perspiration from his face and glasses and shook his gloves in the heat. His hundred was raised with a glorious cover drive against Brett Hutton followed by a spurted single, in only 122 balls with 19 fours and a six.

Gurney ended Chris Rogers' untroubled stay courtesy of a leg-side flick and then James Hildreth, whose wicket he seemed to fancy, was bowled playing no shot. Belatedly, a Notts seamer had delivered their best spell oif the day. But "the ploughman homeward plods his weary way" as Trescothick has plodded for Somerset, so loyally, so dependably and for so long.