Would England opener Marcus Trescothick still be in the team if illness hadn’t halted his career?
Trescothick was at the top of his game when a well documented illness stopped him travelling abroad and effectively ended his England career in 2006.
The batsman had an unorthodox style that involved little movement of the feet but earned him lots of runs.
His retirement from Test cricket started a transition phase that saw a very young Alastair Cook struggle in the side, short captaincy stints from both Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen and a 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.
Of course the great and frustrating thing with “what if” situations is nobody can say for sure, but many believe that if Trescothick had stayed in the side England would have reached the number one Test spot sooner.
The Somerset batsman was instrumental in England’s Ashes win of 2005, the time when the side really showed they were world-beaters.
Yet when Trescothick came onto the international scene in 2000 England were far from the best side in the world. Despite this the opener was ever reliable and was never dropped from the team.
He showed how good he was in 2003 with a career best 219 against South Africa. The batsman set up the victory against the same opponents in Johannesburg in 2004/05 with a powerful 180 – shortly after he had demolished a strong West Indies side at Edgbaston with a century in each innings.
Trescothick scored 431 runs against the Australians in the Ashes victory of 2005, which turned out to be his last full series.
In the winter of that year he returned home midway through the tour of India with little explanation. He then only lasted two weeks of the Ashes tour in Australia before it emerged he had a debilitating mental illness that stopped him from travelling.
Unfortunately for England this meant his career as an international was as good as over. With nearly 6000 Test runs and an average of 43.79, Trescothick had the potential to be one of the best in the world and perhaps still be playing now.
At 37 the batsman is still enjoying prolific seasons with the bat at Somerset but many, including Andrew Strauss and Cook, may be wondering where they would be if Trescothick had played on for England.