Sunday, 29 May 2011

Meet the new boss, not quite the same as the old boss

There is an underbelly to the county championship. For all of its romantic evocations of the turning of England's seasons, it has been a place where men's dreams have died, where their image of themselves has been reshaped, where thwarted ambition has blackened. It has its dark side.

In that regard it always has its symbols, its totems, too. For a decade, it was Barry Richards at Hampshire, a man whose talent engaged in a long and sometimes futile battle with his ennui. There was the brooding, brutal presence of Sylvester Clarke at the Oval, a putative king in exile. Mike Proctor at Gloucester wheeled in endlessly in lieu of having anyplace else to do it. There were others too, and all were players who found it a place of last resort.

For Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash it was something different, a way of slaking a thirst perhaps. For seasons now, Ramprakash has been its premier player. It has probably been a long time since May has come and gone without a hundred from him in the books, but he is over 40 now and what could once be summoned at will doesn't arrive so easily now. It could be his final year.

So who will succeed him? The answer is simple: it can only be Marcus Trescothick. The vagaries of the modern calendar have denied him a thousand runs by the end of May. He has piled up 978 already. His exile to county cricket is of a different sort, and he'll be a different kind of king. There is still a sense of what might have been about him, but he wears it more lightly. The competition needs someone like him at the top as its symbol of excellence. While he's there, as with Ramps, it's in safe hands.


diogenes said...

a wondeful post. Proctor and Richards fated to leave residues of their undeniable greatness in Hants and Glos - though why did Middlesex and Surrey not bid for them? maybe they were happier to ply their trade for the locals? Boring at times but lacking the expectations. Was Richards a big match cricketer? we will never know - in that line-up, Richards can not have felt a great deal of pressure, and nor can Proctor, knowing that P. Pollock was at the other end. We know that Hicks and Ramps were not, sadly. I can point to the rest of the world series v Englnad in 1970 where Proctor and Richards achieved very little in serious circumstances...unlike Barlow and Sobers, Lloyd and Murray . Even G Pollock struggled.

Crucially, I would ask you to assess the career of Roy Marshall - if england had decided to make him qualigied, I am sure he would have been the natural successor to Bob Barber and broken the hold of the defensive English opener - giving Boycott the attacking foilo he needed so badly.

John Halliwell said...

I'm sure the OB is right when he identifies Trescothick as Ramp's successor. Although I would have preferred to see him playing in Cardiff these past few days, I do hope he has found an inner peace. When he came on the county scene, I didn't think he would make it at the highest level. I thought his opening partner would completely overshadow him. It was a joy to listen to the lunchtime scores: "At Taunton, Somerset are 110 without loss; Lathwell 78, Trescothick 29" (I know that's not original, but it always makes me smile).

Diogenes' comments brought back memories of Proctor - that seemingly manic run-up, as if the devil were chasing him, the chest-on action, then release of the ball off the 'wrong' foot. How did it all work? He could be devastating. I bet he gave it everything whether playing for South Africa or Gloucestershire.

Patricia said...

Isn't it a bit too early to assume that a batsman who was injured in the off season and has had few chances to bat this year is already over the hill?

Brian Carpenter said...

There's much in what John says. I watched Marcus from the time he came into the Sonmerset side and I always had doubts, right up until the time he made his England debut. He had a persistent weakness around off-stump which looked terminal and Lathwell was remarkably classy.

Watching him going well at Taunton is now one of the greatest cricketing pleasures available anywhere in the world.

His signature shot these days tends to be a straight drive which always beats mid-off on the inside. If he times one of those well early (and they never fail to hit the boards like a shot from a gun) the bowlers might as well give up.