Warwickshire will face one of the towering figures of this cricketing era when Marcus Trescothick lines up against them for Somerset in the Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston starting on Sunday.
Trescothick will arrive in Birmingham with more than 24,000 first-class runs to his name, his 60 centuries including two in a match at Edgbaston twice; for England against West Indies in 2004 and for Somerset against the Bears in 2009.
Now aged 40, his powers remain high, with two centuries under his belt already this season including a match-saving unbeaten 129 against Lancashire at Taunton this week.
Trescothick’s wicket remains a much-prized one. But his merits stretch far beyond cricket skills, insists Warwickshire opening batsman Varun Chopra who will oppose the former England player for four days from Sunday.
In different camps they may be, but Chopra has several times sought Trescothick’s advice – and been generously received.
“The last couple of times we have played Somerset I have looked to pick his brains,” Chopra said. “As an opening batsman and a strong leader, he is very knowledgeable about the game. He still is a fantastic player and has been for so long. His record speaks for itself.
“When I was captain a couple of times we sat down after games for half an hour and discussed a few things and it was really good. He is very approachable and to get advice from someone of that calibre can only be a good thing. I really appreciated it.”
The two men’s mutual respect will not diminish their desire for championship points at each other’s expense at Edgbaston next week. And the spectators will be in for a treat if recent history is anything to go by, the teams having fought out some magnificent four-day games in the last few years.
“It’s always a good game against Somerset and we have had some real nail-biters against them over the years,” Chopra said. “They have got a great batting line-up with Marcus up there and we know we will have to play well in all departments.
“We have started promisingly with three good draws, probably winning draws. The weather has hampered us a little bit but it might be a different sort of championship this year with fewer wins for whoever finishes top, not nine or ten wins like in the last two years.
“We are playing a pretty good brand of cricket and hopefully we can get our first win against Somerset.”
And then the challenge for Chopra and his team-mate is to build a sustained challenge to bring the championship title to Edgbaston for the eighth time. A lot of hard work lies ahead of them in one of the most gruelling domestic sporting competitions in the world.
“Championship cricket is hard,” Chopra said. “You have got to play strong cricket all the way through and peak at the right time. You have to win the key moments that come along at various points in the season.
“There won’t be any sides that roll over in Division One. Wins will be hard to come by and there will be a lot of fighting going on, so when those crucial moments come in games we have to make sure we get the better of them.”