England vs New Zealand second Test: Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad ready to reign in Nottingham again

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 (PA)
(PA)

Stuart Broad makes no secret of his love of Trent Bridge, his home ground, and Nottingham, his birth place.

Trent Bridge is the scene of his finest hour in Test cricket, that Ashes-sealing eight for 15 in 2015, a veritable classic of the “tail up, legs pumping” genre. He loves the place, owns two pubs not far away and never misses an opportunity to shoehorn his beloved Nottingham Forest into conversation — especially since their promotion to the Premier League last month.

Broad has an excellent record at Trent Bridge, with 41 wickets at under 24, but James Anderson, who is far less synonymous with Nottingham, leaves him in the shade.

The grounds that spring to mind for Anderson are Old Trafford, where there is an end named in his honour, and Lord’s, where he has taken 116 wickets; only Muttiah Muralitharan (with 166 at the SSC in Colombo and 117 at Kandy) has more scalps at a single venue.

It is at Trent Bridge, though, that Anderson has the best record.

In 11 matches at the ground, he has 68 wickets at 19.44, including seven five-wicket hauls (the same number as he has in 26 Tests at Lord’s) and two of his three Test ten-fers. Way back in 2008, he took seven for 43 — his second best figures in Tests — against New Zealand in Nottingham, and nine in the match; one Brendon McCullum was twice bowled by Anderson.

There are nine grounds at which England’s most-capped cricketer has played five or more Tests over the last 19 years; at Trent Bridge, his average and strike-rate are better than any of the others. Oh, and it is the scene of his only Test half-century (81), against India, eight years ago.

The pair’s records — a combined average of 21 — plus Broad’s home comfort make them a fearsome prospect for New Zealand tomorrow.

England arrived in Nottingham with a spring in their step, and a pitch with a hint of green will not have dampened their spirits.

They shared 10 wickets at Lord’s, a Test that provided a reminder of what each is all about. Anderson showed his new-ball brilliance in both innings and came up with some classically parsimonious spells. Broad took a little longer to get into the game, but then found a match-turning spell just when England desperately needed it. There was a moment to seize. Who else but Broad?

The pair’s stock is as high as it has been for a while. Their long-term records, performances at Lord’s and the raft of injuries suffered by their younger fast bowlers meant their selection here was never in doubt.

Yesterday, Alex Lees — who played with them for the first time at Lord’s — said their very presence brought a “calmness” to the dressing room and a confidence that England could fight back in a game that had drifted.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Broad, 36 this month, has joined Anderson, four years older, in never looking too far ahead, promising to take each game as it comes in the autumn of his career. But it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that this is the final Test the pair play at this happiest of hunting grounds. There is currently no Test scheduled here next summer, although it is the likeliest setting for a Test against Ireland before next summer’s Ashes.

When asked this week about this being his last Test on his home ground, Broad said: “Jimmy turns 40 this year, four years ago was he thinking 2018 might be his last at Old Trafford?

Probably not. That just takes your mind away from enjoying the week.”

Trent Bridge Tests have become a little rarer in recent years. Despite only missing out on a Test once between 2000 and 2015 (2009), there have only been three matches at the ground since Broad’s eight for 15.

In white-ball cricket, Trent Bridge has become the most predictable ground in the country for runs, but since 2015 England have found conditions harder to read; of those three in the last six years, they have lost two and in last year’s draw against India were in all likelihood saved by final-day rain.

Even in that game, Anderson found a stunning spell, memorably picking up Virat Kohli first ball, to the delight of a raucous crowd.

Anderson will be advising captain Ben Stokes to look up at the sky, not down at the pitch, when deciding what to do as he goes in search of swing. There is nowhere he and Broad would rather have the new ball in their hand.

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