By Jeremy Blackmore
Peter Trego can pinpoint the moment his Somerset career took off – one afternoon at Lord’s in 2005 where the all-rounder was playing for Middlesex a few years after leaving his boyhood club.
Trego recalls: “I remember bowling from the nursery end and looking towards the pavilion and seeing the Somerset director of cricket Brian Rose sat on the balcony and thinking, ‘why on earth is Brian here?’
“Walking out after the game there was Rosey and we met up and he said words that will always remain in my head, ‘it’s time for you to come home’.
“That was a really special moment and also very timely that the coach Andy Hurry and captain Justin Langer started a fantastic era at the club.”
It was an era with Weston-super-Mare born Trego as its linchpin. After a faltering start to his original stint at Taunton, he has never looked back since and recently brought up his 200th first-class game for the county.
“Andy and JL were very influential. I always had match-winning ability, but they brought a work ethic and a consistency which led to MVP awards, best all-rounder awards, all those things that come with consistent performances. I always view theirs and Brian’s influence as the real start of my career.”
That side is now legendary in the West Country, winning promotion to Division One and then, in the space of four years, finishing runners-up twice in the Championship, three times on T20 Finals Day and twice in Lord’s cup finals.
Their T20 cup runs also earned qualification for the Champions League in front of packed crowds in India. Heady days indeed.
“That was a phenomenal side,” Trego said. “When you look back you think, ‘how did we not turn all of those second places into wins?’ We had a little bit of misfortune. But from a consistency point of view we were a hell of a team. It was great fun to be part of.”
Trego struck immediate form on his return to Taunton and was adjudged the leading all-rounder in county cricket in 2007. His Championship highlight came in 2009 when his 54-ball century against Yorkshire helped chase down an improbable 476.
“Yorkshire had a relatively strong bowling attack and to do that and see the side home was amazing. The crowd just got bigger and louder as the day went on when it looked like that could happen. When sportsmen talk about the zone, that was certainly one day where I was just in full control of every wild swing of my bat.”
He views, though, his 2011 knock in the Champions League against Kolkata Knight Riders, as the innings of his career.
“Our team was decimated by England’s selection. I opened the batting and batted the whole 20 overs and got 70 against an IPL winning team. It was like a World XI.
“That qualified us through the next stages and made Somerset a large amount of money which obviously does huge things for a county club. It’s a close call but I think the way I stood up in that game under lights – we’d only been in Hyderabad for 48 hours – was probably the moment where I really felt like I was on a different level at that stage of my career.”
While Trego, 37, is delighted for teammates who made their Test debuts in the past year, it seems remarkable that a player of his talents did not even make one international appearance in white-ball cricket.
“I’m loathe to talk about my own story, but I have to mention James Hildreth. His record is phenomenal. To have any batsmen score 43 first-class hundreds and never get to represent your country, I feel very sorry for James. He’s a fine player on all surfaces. Only the powers-that-be know the real story but I do find it very peculiar that he’s never had a go.
“I have my own personal grievances, probably more around one-day cricket, but unfortunately maybe me and James played in an era where the selectors didn’t look outside the Test match grounds.”
Trego, with 9,510 first-class runs and 382 wickets, is aware of his reputation as a larger than life big-hitter in the mould of Ian Botham, but says: “The older you get the mature you become, you realise that there are situations where you can be the aggressive attacker or sometimes you have to shepherd the tail to get up to a score.
“I’ve won Championship games when we were nine down in very high-pressure situations.
“I’ve made myself pretty adaptable, being at the top of the order in one-day cricket. I’ve done some special things there. I was only six runs behind being the highest List A run scorer in the country over the past decade. To do that as a top-order batsman who hasn’t had the success of playing for his country is something to be proud of.”
Trego plays far less first-class cricket these days, but continues to make an impact with the white ball. When the time does come to hang up his boots, though, he knows the future is in safe hands.
“It’s a nice feeling to know that there’s absolute class coming through that are going to fill my boots. It’s a progression and it’s the right way to do it.
“Even though it’s always nice to be involved, it’s also nice to know that the club are going to thrive, that we have that depth.
“I still feel I have lots to offer in particular in one-day cricket. My one-day season has been really promising. I averaged nearly 50 in the Royal London and I’m still able to take down attacks in T20, so that’s pretty exciting. We’ll see how that evolves.
“It’s nice to know that the management want me involved and that in some ways is more satisfying than any sort of numbers you can put on the board. That people in your environment respect your character and want to keep you involved.
“Lots of cricketers have fantastic numbers, but it’s nice to think there’s a future for me as a person at the club and that excites me a great deal.”