Beloved by every Somerset fan Pete Trego will be a name talked about for many many years in the same breath as Trescothick, Gimblett, White and Buse. We all see Pete as one of us but how many of us really know him? Here, in the words of Julian Wyatt is Somerset North’s tribute to a much-loved and already much-missed Somerset legend.
I first met Pete in 1996 shortly after I had been appointed Youth Development officer at Somerset. It’s fair to say we didn’t hit it off! The occasion was the first winter training session for the county u14s. I didn’t know Pete previously, but he certainly made sure I wouldn’t forget him. We had a warm-up and some fielding exercises to start the session. Pete did everything at one hundred miles an hour. He was confident and brash. First thought in my mind was, “show pony”. I spoke to Peter Robinson (Robbo) and we agreed that ‘this lad’ might be hard work. Following the fielding session we arranged a net as we needed to see their batting and bowling skills.
It wasn’t long before it was obvious ‘this lad’ could play. I wandered over to Robbo and said, “I think I’ll need to get onside with ‘this lad’”. The next session I made it my mission to spend time with Pete and talk to him. In short, as his coach, I needed to gain his trust if we were going to work well together.
Over the next few years, I watched Pete’s development with interest. He challenged and was prepared to question whatever he wasn’t certain of. He had his own views and played in his own way. I know a number of coaches that found Pete tiresome. Personally, I love working with players with character who don’t necessarily tow the party line. There is a well-worn team saying, “all singing from the same hymn sheet”, which is great. However, what happens when the lyrics are wrong? We need people prepared to challenge, to ask questions. Pete did this and still does. He is gold dust. Environments need the characters that want clarification. Often these guys are regarded as trouble and so it was the case with Pete in his early years.
I worked closely with Pete from when he was fourteen years old. I won’t pretend it was easy going. There were times when he drove me mad. I’m sure he will say I drove him mad too. His enthusiasm could never be questioned though. Whatever the situation and no matter how frustrated I might have been, the overwhelming factor was ‘this lad’ could play and had the will to win. As a coach, my over-riding driving force is development over everything else. You are always as a coach looking for players with the desire to succeed. So much of working with Pete was as much about learning to manage his personality and ability as it was about coaching his skills.
Pete was from the beginning ambitious. He wanted to entertain. He wanted to score centuries and he wanted to take wickets (every ball)! Funnily enough, his batting was more patient than his bowling. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to hit boundaries, it’s just that he naturally understood that you have to stay in to score centuries and so he did. His bowling was all about bowling six different balls each over though!
The idea that ten thousand repetitions equals expertise meant that Pete would have to deliver sixty thousand balls to get close – not easy. His natural delivery was the outswinger and focusing his mind to that wasn’t easy. As a young bowler, Pete also wanted to bowl fast and maybe this contributed to his back injury at seventeen, although it’s impossible to know for sure.
Pete’s desire to bowl fast landed him in trouble with the England u-19 management. He bowled a series of bouncers at one of their leading lights during a net session. The batter was upset and so too the management. Pete was admonished. I spoke to the u-19s head coach at the time and he admitted to finding Pete difficult. I tried to explain that was simply Pete’s enthusiasm. The head coach told me about a recent day/night u-19 game at Hove against Sri Lanka, which was televised by Sky. Pete was fielding at third man and the ball was played to him for a simple single. Pete charged in, picked the ball up one handed and ‘whistled’ his throw in over the top of the stumps. One hundred miles an hour. The head coach wandered around to speak to Pete about calming down. Pete turned and, with a smile, simply said, “cameras”.
Shortly afterwards, following an unbeaten century in the first u-19 “test” match, Pete was dropped. That was his last international match for England (other than the Hong Kong sixes). The inability of the player to adapt, or the inability of the management to embrace someone different? I know which way I view it.
Pete won’t say this, but this difficulty followed him in his early years at Somerset. Pete was headstrong and rather than that being accepted as a strength, senior players and coaches didn’t appreciate his approach. Seen and not heard was still an expected trait of young players in the late 1990s, early noughties. Pete always wanted to be both. The game needs players that want to be seen and heard. What use a professional cricketer that wants to be invisible?
Little things upset management. The ‘bleep’ test was in its infancy as a method to gauge a player’s fitness. Pete has always been an excellent athlete and responded to the ‘bleep’ test with relish. Pete would apply himself to the test until he won. At which point he would stop, which would upset management. Pete couldn’t understand why he was being admonished when he was achieving a better result than anyone else (and winning). Of course, there is a self-development aspect to the criticism, but the absence of praise or recognition for ‘winning’ was certainly cause for concern.
I have to admit, it came as no shock to me when Pete was released at the end of the 2002 season. Thank goodness Robbo spoke to Brian Rose several years later when Pete was playing for Middlesex. Robbo told Rosey in no uncertain terms that he needed to ‘get Pete back’! And Rosey did when after a game at Middlesex, Rosey simply said, “Pete, its time to come home”.
Those four years Pete was away from Somerset probably played an enormous part in his future development. Did it hardened his resolve? Certainly. Did he alter his approach? I doubt that somehow.
The key would have been that Pete will have felt wanted. It matters not how confident someone appears, everyone wants to feel that they belong. Pete knew he belonged now. As Sir Alex Ferguson mentions in his book on Leadership, “everyone responds to the two words, ‘well done’”. Those two words were now a core part of Pete’s career, where they seemed sadly absent previously. It’s all very well and right to challenge people. The key is the word development. That while you challenge, you also support and catch people when they fall. You don’t just catch some, you aim to catch all of them! Simply leaving players to ‘work it out for themselves’ is loaded with risk as guidance is absent. I would criticise any environment guilty of that approach and I felt it was evident where Pete was concerned in his first stint at Somerset.
Thankfully, he returned and has proved what an outstanding cricketer Somerset has been fortunate enough to possess. He has been one of the most passionate of Somerset cricketers, where representing the county is an honour and privilege. Yes, Pete is a showman and he loves centre stage. Winners usually do. Pete has always aimed to entertain, in whatever he does. Keith Parsons and myself played in a golf tournament with Pete several years ago at Woodbury Golf and Country Club. There was a yellow ball challenge, where each player from each team of three had to use the yellow ball on six holes. The team that retained the ball the longest and accrued the most stableford points won. The eighteenth tee is played to an island green surrounded by water. Pete had the honour, as we still had our little yellow ball. The flag was at the front of the green with the water perilously close. Keith and myself asked (but knew the answer), “are you playing long and safe Tregs?”. To which he replied, “no, I’m going for the flag”. The crowd gathered on the balcony and Pete, resplendent in his pink plus fours attacked the flag. It pitched short of the flag and spun back towards the water and kept rolling and rolling… Thankfully, it pulled up just short in some light rough. Pete chipped and putted for a par, which was enough to win a sports bag each!! The entertainer.
I have so many memories of Pete. Not least following a second eleven game at Exmouth against Devon, when Pete came up to me and asked me what I was doing tomorrow. I told him I would be at the county ground coaching. He then asked if I could come to his wedding as he was getting married. I didn’t even know he was dating!
Pete still blames me for being declared on when he was on 98 not out at Kings College playing for Somerset u-15s. I wasn’t actually there, but I had said in a previous game that we wouldn’t bat on for players to score hundreds if it might affect the outcome of the game and our chances of winning. The manager took me to my word!
I’m not sure how many centuries Pete has scored, but his final tally of fifteen first class and ten List A for Somerset reinforce what a fine batsman he has been. He has over 500 wickets in first class and List A combined and has proven himself one of Somerset finest all-rounders in the clubs history. He can certainly count himself unfortunate not to be capped by England in one day cricket, but in an era where James Hildreth has averaged 42.57 and scored 46 first class centuries, it seemed too apparent that the selectors mileage allowance didn’t continue after Bristol for several years. Thankfully it seems to be changing.
It was fantastic to see him finally end up in the winners enclosure this year, after so many close calls and that has been a more than fitting end to his career at Somerset.
I am surprised, like many others, that he has been released from his contract as he has retained a very high level of fitness and his RLODC performances suggested there are still runs and wickets in the old boy, plus a wealth of experience to draw upon. However, the club are clearly keen to support the young talent coming through and that is to be applauded. Having said that, it’s always useful for young talent to play around and alongside cricketers that have spent a good deal of time in a professional playing arena on the field, as their knowledge is generally the most powerful.
I hope Pete finds another county as I’m sure he will be of huge benefit to any county club for a few more years yet. I think there are a number of fine examples of cricketers playing into their late thirties and in some cases, their early forties!
I’m currently slowly working through a personal greatest Somerset eleven from players I played alongside and coached. At the moment, Pete is captain, as I can’t think of anyone else I would like to see martialling Viv and Beefy. I’ve no doubt he’d manage it too!
For now, all I will say Pete is, it’s been a pleasure being involved in your cricket career initially and following from afar over the last fifteen years. You have been an exemplary professional for Somerset CCC and deservedly earned the love of Somerset supporters. You are and will be recongised as a Somerset legend.
Best wishes to you, Claire and the family and I’ll look forward to a few more rounds of golf from time to time, although you could go easy on the pink!