‘Some others might try it’: Trescothick on England’s aggressive trendsetters

For England’s elite batting coach, the Test team’s new all-out attack mindset has its drawbacks. While previous incumbents could be forgiven for letting their minds wander during sedate throw-down drills in the nets, Marcus Trescothick must contend with batsmen bringing their blitz approach to close quarters. He has already worn one crunching shot to the chest. “It’s an occupational hazard,” is his phlegmatic outlook.

But away from being peppered in sessions he describes as “like white-ball T20 practice because the ball is flying back left, right and centre”, few are better placed to assess England’s ultra-aggressive approach, one the captain, Ben Stokes, has pledged to continue – and indeed accelerate – in the second Test against Pakistan in Multan on Friday.

It is fair to say England cricket sides have not always been at the bleeding edge of sporting trends (as a quick glance at any number of one-day and T20 kits will attest) but Trescothick believes the axis between Stokes and Brendon McCullum is creating a fashion others are likely follow.

“It is up to everyone else to decide if they need to catch up and play this style,” he said. “It is not for us to judge. I think some teams will. Why not? What have they got to lose? Someone like a New Zealand, they might try and do it. They are pretty quick at latching on to trends happening in the game. I think you will see opposition trying it now and again.”

Trescothick was a key cog in the machine when an England Test team of a previous era tried to crank up their scoring rate and put batting aggression at the heart of their game. As the 2005 Ashes approached, Duncan Fletcher’s side put their foot down, scoring at a then national record pace of 3.72 and 3.92 an over in series against New Zealand and West Indies in 2004, before setting new standards with a remarkable 5.13 against Bangladesh in early 2005 (the 5.73 registered in the Chester-le-Street Test during that series stood until the 6.73 registered in Rawalpindi this week).

That led into the famous series win over Ricky Ponting and co when England’s positive intent proved crucial in wresting the urn out of Australian hands for the first time since 1989. An Ashes series is looming next year, a prospect Trescothick is clearly beginning to relish: “I wish we were going into the Ashes next week.” There is a temptation, then, to draw parallels, though the former opener believes the difference now is that England are the innovators.

“That [in 2005] was a time when we were trying to catch up to Australia,” he said. “They had moved the benchmark in terms of their style of play. I remember writing an article in 2001 mentioning that Australia play a different game from everyone else. I remember getting slated for it. But this is a different style again. We scored at 3.5 to four an over in that series and it was great. But [now] we are scoring at six an over. That is not to say it will happen every day but we will find methods and work ways to make that happen.”

The bowl of the Multan Stadium may also prompt memories of later in 2005, when – fresh from their Ashes success – England rolled into town and were narrowly beaten after Danish Kaneria and peak-era Shoaib Akhtar sparked a second-innings collapse.

“The difference here is that team was coming to the end,” said Trescothick, who captained England in that match and made 193 in the first innings before his team fell 22 runs short when chasing 197 in the second. “We all thought it was going to carry on but it fell away pretty quickly, whereas this team is only getting started.

“It is the start of a good long journey when we are going to have some exciting cricket and you will see some young players really flourish and stand out.”