Next up in a new series celebrating the heroes of the shires, Scott Oliver speaks to West Country warhorse Peter Trego.
Name: Peter David Trego
Clubs: Somerset, Kent, Middlesex, Herefordshire
Best of times: Playing Champions League T20 and winning the PCA MVP 2012
Worst of times: Missing out on the 2010 County Championship to Nottinghamshire, despite finishing level on points
In his own words: “People forget that cricket is entertainment. Rather than average 40 for the season, I’d sooner win games and send a kid home buzzing.”
West Country of both surname and twanging intonation, and buccaneering of approach, it’s little wonder Somerset’s 2015 beneficiary Peter Trego is a crowd favourite in Taunton. His bonds with the club were first cemented as a 13-year-old schoolboy in Weston-super-Mare: “Our deputy headmaster was on the committee at Somerset and used to organise for some of the lads to go and service the ground at Clarence Park during Weston festival week – putting out the chairs, collecting rubbish, doing odd jobs.”
He wasn’t especially concerned with collecting autographs, mind: “My most vivid memory is watching Andy Caddick doing bowl-throughs, with one stump in the ground. Not really knowing they were just trying to get loose I shouted from across the rope, ‘Caddick, you’re rubbish! You can’t hit the stump!’ He called me over: ‘Go on then, you little shit; go and have a go.’ I hit three times in a row. He went a bit red in the face. Six years later I’m in the same team as him.”
The cheeky wee scamp had become a cheeky big scamp, and debuted against “Surrey all-stars in 2000. I was lbw first ball to a Saqlain doosra”. But things didn’t work out in his first spell and he left for Kent. “I was in one game, out the next, and that didn’t suit where I was at the time. Regrettably, and rather petulantly, I decided to pack my bags and move on. The phrase ‘the grass isn’t always greener’ was very apt. My heart was never really in playing for anyone other than Somerset.”
Trego took time out to play non-league football with Margate and Bath, a goalkeeper who twice scored from his own half, but a chance invitation to play Minor Counties for Herefordshire rekindled the cricketing flame.
Since returning, he has been one of the most dependable players on the circuit, winning the PCA’s MVP award in 2012. Then there was “the innings of my life”: a 54-ball hundred against Yorkshire as Somerset chased down 476 in 2009.
But there’s been a good dollop of disappointment, too. Three straight T20 final losses, back-to-back Lord’s defeats in CB40 finals, and two second-placed County Championship finishes for a side still to break their first-class duck have left their scars, particularly missing out to Notts in 2010. “We were marched off at ten to five against Kent a few weeks earlier, the umpires saying you can’t play on for bonus points, so to watch a team play till 6.30pm for bonus points was particularly frustrating.”
Even so, he remains philosophical about it all: “It’s hard to look back at that period too negatively because it took us to two Champions Leagues where we beat two IPL champions, which for a little team from the West Country was a phenomenal success.”
He may lack international recognition, but Trego is instantly recognisable, and his look was recently immortalised in the ‘PT Lucky 7’ bat, which incorporates some of his many tattoos in the design. “I went to Gray-Nicolls and said there are a lot of tattooed oiks like me playing club cricket who might appreciate something a little bit more out there…”
The name itself reflects his gambler’s mentality. “People forget that cricket is entertainment. Rather than average 40 for the season, I’d sooner win games and send a kid home buzzing,” he says, and it’s that bravado that often sucks a cider-steeped roar from the Taunton bleachers as he strides purposefully to the crease. “I do enjoy that reception, and often play up to it.”
The connection is palpable and unaffected, and while the former young scamp is now on the other side of the ropes, he’s still very happy to talk to the crowd while playing. “I remember fielding at fine-leg once and a couple of young ladies sitting in front of the Colin Atkinson Stand were referencing my backside quite a lot. Positively. This went on a while, so I gave them a bit of a wiggle and turned round to notice my in-laws were sat two rows behind them. My mother-in-law gave me the filthiest look I’ve ever seen…”