Marcus Trescothick’s appointment as England’s new elite batting coach comes after the 45-year-old’s encouraging progress with the travel-related anxiety disorder that cut short his international playing career.
The former opener has ended a 30-year association with Somerset to work with batsmen at all levels, while similar full-time roles have gone to Jeetan Patel (spin bowling), Jon Lewis (seam bowling) and Richard Dawson (pathway, including England Under-19s and Lions).
Touring will be a feature of these wide-ranging positions, so, too, time away from home during the home summer. But for Trescothick, who left the 2006 tour of India due to a stress-related illness and had it end a comeback later that year, this is no longer insurmountable.
“We have discussed it and I’m ready to jump back on and do bits and pieces,” said Trescothick, who was with England in South Africa before Christmas. “Do I want to do three months in a row? No, I don’t. I’m building up to that point.
“The little journeys I’ve done for a couple of weeks here or a month there – that works really well. It reminded me of the good bits that I did. It felt different to stresses and strains of playing and the intensity that goes with it. It’s given me the opportunity to enjoy it for the right reasons in comparison to before.
“It’s an ongoing process for me. I think I’ve learned to adapt it and progress where I’ve gone. Every trip that I do, the more I realise how much I enjoyed the touring life. But that’s not to say I’m ready to jump back in and do six weeks or two to three months away. That’s not what I’m ready for yet.”
Trescothick’s cross-format success – 14 Test centuries, 12 in ODIs – and approachable manner make him an ideal fit and but for a family bereavement he would have flown out for the white-ball leg of the current India tour.
The assistant coach Graham Thorpe will fly home with the Test-only players next week but Jonathan Trott, who made the interview stage, has agreed to stay on and further his experience.
The appointments of Patel and Lewis cement their positions after spending the past year in temporary roles. Lewis enjoys a notably strong rapport with Jofra Archer, while Patel has been working with Jack Leach and Dom Bess during a contrasting tour for the two spinners.
Two heavy defeats have wiped out England’s initial 1-0 lead and left the batsmen with much to ponder, but on a personal level Leach’s curve has been upwards. The 29-year-old’s first eight overs of the series were banjaxed for 88 runs by Rishabh Pant but after three Tests he has 16 wickets at 26 runs apiece.
For a left-arm spinner who came into the subcontinental winter light on cricket over the previous 12 months due to the pandemic, as well as the well-documented health issues that mean he is due to be vaccinated when he is back home, it represents a heartening return.
“This series has given me a lot of confidence,” he said. “The guys you are bowling against are world-class batters and playing them in their own backyard is a challenging experience. I feel like I’ve stood up to that pretty well.
“I don’t think I could really have expected much more of myself than how I’ve done and how I’ve got better through the tour. It has given me a lot of confidence that I can go on and play a lot for England.
“I know I still have lots of hard work to do but I’ve seen how I can come back from disappointment or tough times in games and put in good performances.”
While Leach was being taken apart by Pant during the first Test in Chennai, Bess was running through India’s middle order. But a wayward performance in the second innings of that 227-run victory meant he was first dropped for Moeen Ali and then overlooked for the pink-ball Test in favour of four seamers. A repeat of this in Thursday’s must-win fourth Test feels unlikely and it is over to Patel to ensure the 23-year-old has recovered sufficiently.
“Dom’s pretty good,” said Patel, a former New Zealand international. “I spoke to him yesterday and he’s in a very good state. He knows that this last Test match is a big Test match for England. To go 2-2 in this series would be a fantastic effort. He’s in very good spirits, it’s fair to say he was a bit disappointed he wasn’t selected in that third Test.”
“The one thing that this England side has done recently is faced adversity and punched against it, so I expect all of us to punch back pretty hard,” added Patel. “We just need to be a bit smarter about how we go about things.
“I would expect this Test match to again be on a spinning wicket and we’re going to have to find ways to make sure – if we win the toss, especially – that we put a decent total up first up.”