There’s no point dwelling on it, because he’s never going to play for England again, but there’s a fair chance that Marcus Trescothick is still England’s best batsman. Kevin Pietersen’s record may look a little better, but he doesn’t have to face the new ball.
Marcus Trescothick was so good we invented a word for him. We called him a ‘beeftain‘. That reflects how important we feel he was. He scored huge amounts of runs in all forms of the game and he did it in a way that scares the opposition.
It’s unquantifiable, but that ability to impose himself on bowlers is what’s missing from the current England team. A fifty from Alastair Cook ends as soon as he loses his wicket, but a fifty from Marcus Trescothick sometimes reverberated for overs, sessions or even days afterwards. Arguably his most influential innings was his 90 in the dizzying Edgbaston Test of 2005.
We all know that England won that series, but it’s hard to express how unlikely that seemed after the Lord’s Test. There had been some encouraging signs from the bowlers, but England had been bowled out for 155 and 180. Australia were carrying on as they had been doing for years.
Ricky Ponting won the toss and put England in to bat. Glenn McGrath was missing and Marcus Trescothick went out of his way to point this out. By lunch he was 77 not out and it was clear that England’s batsmen needn’t be hell-bent on survival, they could dictate the terms themselves. Pietersen and Flintoff exemplified the reckless destruction best, but they were just carrying the baton that Trescothick had forged.
Trescothick could wheel out those ‘big hundreds‘ that England need so much right now as well. His two innings against Bangladesh prior to the 2005 Ashes had yielded 194 and 151, but he could do it against more formidable bowling too.
His Test best was 219 against South Africa after England had conceded 484. Normally you lose when you concede that many, but Trescothick helped England to 604 and even found time to thrash 69 not out off 66 balls on the final day to see England to a win.
The same opponents saw him compile 180 at Johannesburg in 2005 – in the second innings, no less. That innings is the forgotten prelude to Matthew Hoggard’s seven wickets on the final day that gave England a series victory.
And for a man who can no longer leave the country, his last Test tour wasn’t too shameful either. Two England batsmen passed fifty in Multan signalling a profound collective Ashes hangover. Ian Bell hit 71 as England countered Pakistan’s 274. Marcus Trescothick hit 193.
For his weight of runs, for how his aggression made opponents step back and for how he just stood still and popped balls to the boundary with his static, reinforced prod, we’ll miss Marcus Trescothick immensely.