Northamptonshire v Somerset, Wantage Road, County Championship, 12th July 2014
The second time I’ve been to Northampton for a first-class match this season and the second time they ended the first day on at least equal terms with superior opposition (only to lose heavily). This is perhaps not unconnected to both Yorkshire and Somerset having played a T20 at home on the Friday evening before travelling to Northampton for a 12.00 start on the Saturday. This would, of course, have only affected those who played both games, not including Marcus Trescothick, unexpectedly left out for the T20 fixture. What was the story there? I don’t know.
I’m not sure I remember much of the Marcus Trescothick story since he left that tour of India in 2007 (so long ago!) to be replaced by Alastair Cook. I know he has made runs consistently for Somerset, with an annus mirabilis in 2009 (I think) but a gentle decline over the last couple of years. This season he has rallied and on Saturday made his fourth first class century of the season (without ever looking particularly at ease). He is now 38, with 55 first class centuries (and 28 in limited overs) to his name. Somerset have won nothing, but have come second in all three competitions at at various times (all in the same year in 2010, under his Captaincy).
Tempting, if futile, to speculate on what might have happened had Trescothick not left that tour. Might he, not Pietersen, have taken over the Captaincy of England from Flintoff? Would Cook’s entry into Test cricket have been long delayed, or might he have displaced Andrew Strauss? Would Pietersen still be playing, would Cook be Captain? The what-ifs are innumerable, but it’s safe to assume that Trescothick’s career would have ended a few years ago (in tears like Vaughan or with a whiff of acrimony like Strauss) and he would not now still be plying his trade in the decent obscurity of Wantage Road.
A couple of incidents on Saturday would, had they occurred in a Test, have been subjected to microscopic examination on TV and amplification from every kind of media. A ball from David Willey (who looks to be back close to his full pace, encouragingly for England but too late for Northants) struck Craig Kieswetter full in the face. He was felled so instantly and dramatically that even Willey looked panicked. A groundsman wandered on with what looked discouragingly like a giant dustpan and brush but was sawdust with which to soak up the blood on the wicket.
A few minutes later Kieswetter’s replacement, Trego, seemed to have been caught at slip by Andrew Hall off Willey’s bowling. The Umpires seemed unsure whether the catch had been taken cleanly and were disinclined to take Hall’s word for it. Trego , similarly minded, remained unmoved.
With Kieswetter’s blood still wet at the crease, Willey and Trego (normally two of the “feistier” characters on the circuit) seemed disinclined to make much of the incident and even those in the crowd who held strong views were soon distracted by the announcement that real ale left over from Wednesday’s Tom Jones concert was being sold off for £2.00 a pint (and very good it was too).
Without slow motion replays, closeups and allied technologies it was, of course, impossible for anyone in the crowd to form an informed opinion as to whether the catch had been cleanly taken or not. As I sipped my pint of Sunchaser (in a Tom Jones commemorative mug) round the back of the Steffans stand I fell to musing as to whether cricket is really seen more truly under the microscope of TV than via the panoramic view from the stands. Is a butterfly better understood on a slide than on a flower? (Powerful stuff, that Sunchaser.)
I wondered too whether Trescothick ever envies the man who took his place all those years ago? Might he not (illnesses aside) be happier away from the limelight where the cameras are generally in the hands of friends and admirers?
Would he rather be examined this closely?
Or as closely as this?