THE day many hoped would never come has arrived.

It turns out Marcus Trescothick, much as the Somerset faithful may want him to, can't go on forever.

The batsman, now 43, has today announced that he is to retire at the end of the season, taking with him the goodwill of cricket supporters far beyond Taunton and the Westcountry.

It is difficult to overstate the impact he has had during his 27-year professional career, both on and off the field.

To put things into some context, Trescothick made his First Class debut for Somerset the year before I was born.

This meant that, to begin with, I knew of Trescothick as England's swashbuckling opener who we rarely saw in Taunton.

One of my first visits to the County Ground was to see Somerset take on Yorkshire (Cricinfo tells me this was in 2003) and I remember two things from the day - Stephen Fleming holing out on 98 and, primarily, the cheers and applause when the tannoy announced that Trescothick had made a century for England.

The pride was understandable, for this was a son of Somerset making an impression on the global stage - something we would become used to in the years that followed.

The 2005 Ashes made him a household name. Trescothick's typically belligerent 90 in the second Test at Edgbaston was representative of an England side who, unlike those in years gone by, were not intimidated by the challenge of taking on that great Australian side.

His Test career was, of course, cut short on the return Ashes tour the following year as anxiety and depression took hold, and the way Trescothick has since opened up on this has made him a role model in spheres extending a long way beyond just cricket.

'Coming Back To Me', released in 2008, remains one of the most hard-hitting and influential sporting autobiographies and the batsman still receives letters from people who have read it - sports fans and otherwise - thanking him for helping them with their own struggles.

Mental health is now, belatedly, treated with the seriousness it merits within professional sport.

This owes plenty to the high-profile sportspeople who have been open and honest about their experiences, and Trescothick is right at the forefront of that particular list.

Back on the field, Trescothick became a pleasure to watch in a Somerset shirt in the years that followed.

He remained an international class batsman and, at times, it was hard not to feel sympathy for county bowlers as he plundered them for effortless runs at grounds all around the country.

On visits to Taunton during school holidays, I would usually see one day of any given Championship fixture and I used to enter the ground really hoping to see the home team bat at some point during the day. The reason was simple - Trescothick.

My dad, who grew up watching Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards play for Hampshire, would often stress how lucky we were to be watching a batsman of Trescothick's quality playing in county cricket.

It was a privilege which was not lost on me then and, now that we know he is on his way out, will only make me feel more fortunate as the years go on. When Trescothick leant on a cover drive and sent the ball racing into the boundary boards, everything was right with the world.

The stats speak for themselves. Between 2007 and 2011, Trescothick scored 7,460 Championship runs and plenty more in white ball cricket and went on to top 1,000 runs again in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Two Trescothick innings, from those I have seen live, stand out in the more recent years.

The first was in 2015, when he and a then 21-year-old Tom Abell both made centuries in an opening stand of 272 against Hampshire in Taunton - two batsmen at opposite ends of their careers, each of whom came through the ranks at Somerset, sharing in each other's joy as they reached their landmarks in front of a crowd determined to savour every last one of Trescothick's masterclasses.

These admittedly became rarer as the years went on but there was another one in May 2017, when Trescothick went past Harold Gimblett's record with his 50th First Class century for Somerset.

Fittingly, it came at Taunton and, perhaps even more suitably, Peter Trego was at the other end.

This came during my first year working at the County Gazette and I was fortunate enough to see Trescothick break the record from the comfort of a seat in the stand which bears his name.

The record etched his name further into Somerset folklore and, to many people, Marcus Trescothick simply *is* Somerset cricket.

Friends of mine who follow cricket loosely, or not at all, will usually have just the one question if the topic of county cricket comes up: "Is Trescothick still playing?"

From next season, for the first time since 1993, the answer will be 'no' - but his work is not yet done.

Trescothick's time at Somerset has not yielded the trophies it perhaps merited, given the quality of the teams he has played in.

Somerset lead the County Championship at the halfway stage and now they have been given a further incentive, if they needed it, to push on and make that title their own.

If they can do it with Trescothick back in the team, it would provide just about the perfect conclusion to a remarkable career.