This preseason is Peter Trego’s 13th since returning to Somerset way back in 2006 after a short absence away. And the ever popular Weston-Super-Mare lad looks in great nick. Not bad considering the man affectionately known as Tregs, or Trigger, or even The Weston Wonder, is one of the old guard at Taunton these days. Born in the same year that Ian Botham was slaying the Aussies in Leeds, he still enjoys the physicality of one half his age. But he works hard to achieve this of course.
Despite approaching his 37th birthday the immensely popular all-rounder still gets excited when a new season is close.
“I still have the same buzz,” he admits. “I think when you spend your life in a sports dressing room you get the Peter Pan syndrome and just never grow out of it.
“I’ve got these 18-year-old blokes around me, carrying on like they do, so I’m just trying to keep up with them and getting ready for the next challenge.”
Tregs joined Somerset as a member of the original Academy in the late 90s, when the likes of the Spice Girls and Oasis were dominating the charts. Whilst he enjoyed the cricketing side of his scholarship he wasn’t entirely enamoured with the academic side of things.
“I went on the Academy when it first started in 1997, where you have a place at the Richard Huish College and then came here to train,” he recalls. “I think I lasted about two weeks and made it through half a lecture before realising this isn’t for me.
“But it’s different now, the Academy is a highly professional entity in itself. They have their own staff in place just to help the kids come through and it is very much like the top football clubs – Southampton in particular, who breed so many young, quality England players.
“But the positive is that Jason Kerr has stayed around, and Andy Hurry is back, and if you look at all the lads that have come through, Jason has had a lot to do with that – he knows what makes the lads tick and there are strong relationships.
“If these youngsters want to play for Somerset then they know that they have to fall in love with what the club is about.”
With so many talented youngsters in the set-up, and local lads now progressing to play for the various England teams, including the Test team, Tregs knows he has to keep focused.
“Yes, that’s going to be one of the challenges for me this year,” he says honestly. “The club obviously has to evolve and therefore they need to blood the new players so I expect to fight very hard to get in the team, all season long. But I have been working hard and I know that if I do get to walk out onto the pitch I am going to have to deserve it.”
Highly adept in all forms of the game, he has thrilled crowds home and away with his swashbuckling performances for years, particularly in the one-day formats. And throughout his career, Tregs has always been the fans favourite at Taunton. Think back to the all-conquering T20 team from earlier this decade, the one that made Finals Day for four years on the trot. There were world class players throughout; Tres in his prime, Kiessy, Jos, Kieron Pollard and Alfonso, yet the biggest roar would always be reserved for when Tregs walked out to bat. And it still happens today and such an ovation does not fall on deaf ears.
“It is something I will always appreciate,“ he says. “I don’t mean this in a negative way to any other player but I notice the noise levels raise when I walk out to bat and that gives me goosebumps. It is something that will stay with me forever.
“And one of the best things I ever heard was from Ross, the barman in the Colin Atkinson Pavilion – which maybe a strange person to get a compliment from – and he said to me one afternoon whilst just talking to me about his life and working for Somerset , ‘I always know when you’re batting because the bar empties.’
“I like that. I’ll take that.”
He has given us fans so many great memories. One game that stands out was against Hampshire at Taunton in July 2010. The visitors amassed 216, which was a domestic T20 record at the time, yet Somerset chased it down with Tregs scoring a magnificent undefeated 72. In one over he hit Razzaq for three sixes with the unfortunate former Pakistan international’s four overs costing 64 runs.
Earlier in that innings’ Marcus Trescothick had also broken a record when he took just 13 balls to pass 50. “Yes I remember,” says Tregs. “I couldn’t get him off strike. He kept running singles off the sixth ball of every over.”
It is when you reflect back on games like this, and all the other match winning performances, that you wonder why Peter Trego was never picked to play for England. So how close does he think he came to playing for his country?
“I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being disappointed or frustrated that I wasn’t given the chance, especially considering some (others) that did get the chance,” he admits. “I think the old phrase about knocking on the door, well I think I was always there or thereabouts in my 20s and early 30s, being on A tours with some successes. And in my penultimate game for the A team I think I scored 70-something off 50 balls and took five for 40 but was never picked again.
“There was one particular season – I think 2011 or 2012 – where I scored over a thousand one-day runs for the club which, I think, was only the second time in the club’s history.
“And I have a very vivid memory of being sat watching TV, the first ODI of the winter, and the Sky team were talking about the new players – and they had picked James Taylor, Michael Carberry and potentially Moeen Ali – and they showed a graphic of the highest one-day run scorers in English cricket and Carberry was second and Ali about 7th. They all had decent numbers – 700 odd runs at 40, something like that – and they mentioned everyone’s name from 2 to 10 apart from mine. And I had over 1,000 runs at an average of 98 and strike rate of 140 and still no-one mentioned my name.
“I knew then that I had no-one in that environment talking up for me because there is no doubt that the Sky commentary team will put on a lot of pressure if they like someone.
“I knew then that I didn’t stand a chance. So I moved on and all my ambitions centred around playing here for Somerset.
“And I did manage to pitch myself against the best in the world playing in the Champions League. I remember when we beat Kolkata Knight Riders – probably the best 20:20 team in the world at the time – and I scored 70-odd against Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis and batted all the way through the innings and was man of the match. That’s the one thing that makes me more comfortable.”
So a new season dawns and there is plenty more to come from Tregs, plenty more in the tank. You can be sure of that. And we hope for many more memories to come. So what motivates him and what are his ambitions?
“What, apart from Rocky films?” he laughs. “I think personal pride and I have a view of where I want my career to go and I set my own standards.
“If this season is my last season, or my last season is in four years’ time, then I want to walk out of here a match winner for Somerset and I don’t want to get to a place where the crowd want me to stop.
“To do that in the modern day then you have to be physically fit and a good athlete. And I have to say I enjoy training and it’s a real pleasure to get up in the morning and come here and this puts me in a position where I am still playing at nearly 37.
“But, as I say, my ambitions lie here with Somerset and I want to finish my career with some silverware.”