FROM the towering vantage point of the new press box at the top of the Somerset pavilion one can see the Quantock Hills stretching for miles.
No cricket ground in the country offers a better panorama, with the hills yesterday a sunlit patchwork of greens, browns and rapeseed yellow.
It was a sight fit for the gods, and while a shirt-sleeved crowd were watching former England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick in full cry at his spiritual home, it was possible to believe that Trescothick himself was as timeless as the watching hills.
Now 40 years old, he seems to have been batting at Taunton forever and a day, a ground where one of the stands bears his name in fitting tribute.
Cricket does not get much better than watching Trescothick beneath a flawless blue sky at a sun-drenched Taunton; not that opposition teams would agree.
Yorkshire were certainly keen to see the back of him on a day when Somerset scored 342-4 after being sent into bat, Trescothick contributing a sublime 97.
Chris Rogers, who replaced Trescothick as Somerset captain in January, made 91, while James Hildreth contributed 68 and Jim Allenby 51 as Yorkshire toiled in benign conditions, but the lasting memory was the mastery of Trescothick, a veteran, perhaps, but still a virtuoso.
On this evidence, the left-hander – who has a one-year rolling contract – will still be going long after the Quantocks have succumbed to global warming, still taking guard on a featherbed pitch and still taking poor old bowlers to the cleaners.
For a little over three hours yesterday, he toyed with Yorkshire as the euphoria of their win against Surrey last week was systematically eroded by a day of hard yakka.
A 61st first-class hundred – and a sixth against Yorkshire – was his for the taking, but, in striving for a boundary to reach three-figures, Trescothick fired back a searing return catch to leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who nonchalantly plucked it from the sky as though snaring a flying insect.
It was Rashid’s sixth ball after he had been introduced with the score on 173-1 after 49 overs, and the leg-spinner struck again in his 11th over when Rogers edged behind a well-flighted googly.
Rashid took 2-70, but the pick of the attack was Steve Patterson, who provided the control that most of his colleagues lacked on his way to 1-57 from 20 overs.
In fairness to the bowlers, it was a batsman’s day, with Yorkshire bowling in the hope of exploiting early assistance, of which there was little, and which they failed to use in any case.
In fairness to readers, it was another below-par performance from the champions, who are still striving to hit the exalted heights of the past two years.
Jack Brooks and, in particular, Liam Plunkett, struggled to check the scoring at the start of the day, and, as well as Trescothick and his colleagues played, Yorkshire failed to build consistent pressure.
Will Rhodes impressed after being drafted in to replace David Willey, but with Willey unable to bowl for six weeks after joining Ryan Sidebottom, Tim Bresnan and Matthew Fisher on the injured list, Yorkshire lacked collective discipline.
Should Somerset go on to post a sizeable score, Yorkshire will certainly need more from their top-order batting, which has been inconsistent to date, and which no longer has England’s Jonny Bairstow to bail it out of trouble.
Andrew Hodd and Jack Leaning returned here in place of Bairstow and Joe Root, and the visitors began indifferently as Trescothick instantly found his range.
Trescothick hit 22 of the 23 runs that Brooks conceded in his opening spell of six overs, while Plunkett’s first spell consisted of three overs for 17 and his second spell of three overs for 19.
It took the introduction of Patterson to bring about a breakthrough with the score on 30 in the eighth over, the pace man striking with his sixth ball when he brought one back to uproot Tom Abell’s leg stump.
Whereas Plunkett’s first six overs went for 36, Patterson’s figures at the same stage were 6-4-6-1, a revealing comparison.
Trescothick, on 42, offered a technical chance when he drove back fiercely at Adam Lyth, who was called into action ahead of first-choice spinner Rashid just before lunch.
Yorkshire missed a chance to remove Rogers for 40 immediately after the break with the total on 125, Alex Lees reprieving the Australian low to his left at first slip off Patterson.
It goes without saying that you need to take your catches at Taunton, and Rogers was soon celebrating a nuggety half-century from 108 balls with seven fours.
Not even a ping on the helmet from Plunkett fazed him, and he stuck around until just after tea having earlier added 148 with Trescothick in 42 overs.
Hildreth and Allenby picked up the baton, adding 85 in 22 overs before Allenby was caught at cover off Rhodes.