Tres hails Over­ton to fire it up Down Un­der

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Hayter

ASHES leg­end Mar­cus Trescoth­ick is back­ing Som­er­set team-mate Craig Over­ton to bring fire and guts to Eng­land’s win­ter cam­paign down un­der, with­out over­step­ping the line with the kind of be­hav­iour that has led to dis­ci­plinary is­sues in the past.

And the vet­eran opener be­lieves skip­per Joe Root should pro­mote him­self to the prob­lem num­ber three po­si­tion when the se­ries gets un­der­way in the first Test at the Gabba next month.

Trescoth­ick be­lieves Over­ton could be a sur­prise pack­age if he is given his chance in the ab­sence of Ben Stokes, who may miss at least part and prob­a­bly all of the se­ries fol­low­ing his ar­rest on sus­pi­cion of ac­tual bod­ily harm.

Over­ton was picked ini­tially as back-up to the start­ing XI, but if a spot does open up in Stokes’ ab­sence, Trescoth­ick thinks the un­capped all-rounder has the po­ten­tial to fill it and steer clear of trou­ble should the five-Test se­ries turn into the ‘war’ promised by Aussie bats­man David Warner – an in­flam­ma­tory com­ment de­scribed by Trescoth­ick this week as “pa­thetic”.

“Craig is not a like-for-like re­place­ment, more of a younger Chris Woakes – a bowler who can bat and hit the ball hard. It is a roll of the dice be­cause he is un­tried at this level, but he cer­tainly wouldn’t let any­one down with the ball, not at all. In fact, he might thrive in Aus­tralian con­di­tions where the ball bounces a bit more.

“We’ve seen his abil­ity to ex­tract lift on var­i­ous pitches this sea­son, where there’s an ex­tra bit of bounce. He bowls de­liv­er­ies which re­mind me of some of those Andy Cad­dick used to pro­duce – balls that come from nowhere, fly­ing up from a length past shoul­der height. Watch­ing them from slip it was like “hell, that’s proper bowl­ing”.

Trescoth­ick fur­ther in­sists that Over­ton has ma­tured suf­fi­ciently to avoid a re­peat of the on-field petu­lance that led to a two-match ban from county cricket two

sea­sons ago. In 2015 Over­ton was at the cen­tre of racism al­le­ga­tions af­ter he was re­ported by the um­pires for telling Sus­sex bats­man Ashar Zaidi to “go back to your own f**king coun­try,” dur­ing a Cham­pi­onship match.

He de­nied the charge but was banned for two games by the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board. But Over­ton has since un­der­gone coun­selling ses­sions with a psy­chother­a­pist to help with anger man­age­ment is­sues, which Trescoth­ick be­lieves has taught him how to chan­nel his in­nate ag­gres­sion cor­rectly.

“He’s a gutsy, fiery char­ac­ter, hence he’s had his prob­lems along the way,” says the 41-yearold opener. Some­times you need to hold him back a lit­tle bit, to tell him ‘all right, calm down, chill’.

“But he has been man­ag­ing him­self re­ally well and teach­ing him­self how to con­duct him­self bet­ter on the pitch with­out damp­en­ing the fire in­side.

“Now he does it in the right way, in the bat­tle of the game, caus­ing trou­ble for the bats­man with­out step­ping over the mark where, as a team­mate you go, ‘right, you’re out of or­der’, or the um­pires have to step in.

“Craig wouldn’t back down from an ar­gu­ment on the pitch, and he will be happy to be say­ing what­ever he needs to say out there. Jimmy An­der­son oc­ca­sion­ally pushes that line and so does Stu­art Broad. I think Craig now knows how to stay the right side of it.”

The other is­sue over which Trescoth­ick’s thoughts are clear is that Root must el­e­vate him­self to three in Eng­land’s in­ex­pe­ri­enced bat­ting line-up.

“I don’t know the in­ter­nal work­ings of the team but, to me, Joe should bat at three, then, as the ball gets older and bat­ting gets a lit­tle bit eas­ier, let the oth­ers come in af­ter him.

“It is go­ing to be tough. Eng­land will rely heav­ily on Alas­tair Cook, Joe and Jonny Bairstow for runs and if the Aussies smell blood they will go for the kill.

“Tac­ti­cally, I just don’t think that try­ing to grind out to­tals works. Look at the way the one-day team has thrived since they adopted a far more pos­i­tive ap­proach to run-mak­ing.

“There are many dif­fer­ent ways to be pos­i­tive. It’s not all about hit­ting fours and sixes. It’s also about be­ing busy at the crease, al­ways look­ing to pick up sin­gles and put the field­ing side un­der pres­sure. That is an­other rea­son why I’d want to see Joe go in fur­ther up the or­der.

“There is noth­ing a bowler hates more than bowl­ing a good ball and leak­ing a sin­gle and Joe is bril­liant at it.”

Root should also make sure he cre­ates his own place of refuge away from the white heat of the Ashes bat­tles.

“You know the bar­rage that you get there; the in­ten­sity and the at­mos­phere in the grounds and the peo­ple on you and at you all the time.

“Joe’s got to find a safe haven where he can re­lax and be peace­ful with fam­ily or friends, or even on his own; the kind of place where you can have mo­ments of calm­ness when the s**t is hit­ting the fan all around you.”

Trescoth­ick ad­mits he is also con­cerned that the Stokes af­fair will blur Eng­land’s fo­cus for what will be a mas­sive test of their psy­cho­log­i­cal strength.

“It is a huge sit­u­a­tion and if he doesn’t play it’s a huge blow and dis­trac­tion. In re­cent times when­ever we’ve gone down there with un­cer­tainty about the team we’ve been ham­mered.

“When we went in 06-07 and the ques­tion was should ‘An­drew Flintoff be cap­tain or should it be An­drew Strauss’, and then I had to come home, then the last time, when they lost Jonathan Trott af­ter the first Test, the same thing hap­pened.

“So, to me, it would be good to re­move the un­cer­tainty over the bat­ting or­der at least, with Joe tak­ing on the job at three.”

The Som­er­set opener, who is ap­proach­ing what he con­cedes could be his last year as a player, has fi­nal words of en­cour­age­ment for county team-mate Jack Leach, the left-arm spin­ner over­looked for the Ashes squad in favour of Hamp­shire leg­gie Ma­son Crane, de­spite an­other stel­lar Cham­pi­onship cam­paign.

“Jack has done bril­liantly to come through af­ter hav­ing had his ac­tion ques­tioned, and there is noth­ing more he can do than he hasn’t done al­ready.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Images

Ready to roar! Som­er­set pace­man Craig Over­ton can de­liver Down Un­der, Mar­cus Trescoth­ick be­lieves

Back­ing: Trescoth­ick

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