Trent Bridge is the scene of its finest hour in Test cricket, that Ashes-sealing eight for 15 in 2015, a true classic of the ‘tail up, legs pumping’ genre. He loves the place, owns two pubs nearby and never misses a chance to strike up a conversation with his beloved Nottingham Forest, especially since their promotion to the Premier League last month.
Broad has an excellent record at Trent Bridge, with 41 wickets under 24, but James Anderson, who is far less synonymous with Nottingham, leaves him in the shadows.
Grounds that come to Anderson’s mind are Old Trafford, where there is an end named in his honour, and Lord’s, where he took 116 wickets; only Muttiah Muralitharan (with 166 at SSC in Colombo and 117 in Kandy) has more scalps at a single site.
It is at Trent Bridge, however, that Anderson has the best record.
In 11 matches on the ground he has 68 wickets at 19.44, including seven five-wicket runs (the same number he has in 26 Tests at Lord’s) and two of his three Tests at ten-irons. In 2008 he took seven for 43 – his second-best numbers in Testing – against New Zealand in Nottingham, and nine in the game; a Brendon McCullum was played twice by Anderson.
There are nine grounds at which England’s most capped cricketer has played five or more Tests in the past 19 years; in Trent Bridge, his average and strike rate are better than all the others. Oh, and this is the scene of his only Half-Century Test (81), against India, eight years ago.
The pair’s records – a combined average of 21 – along with Broad’s home comforts make them a formidable 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 served as a reminder of what it’s all about. Anderson showed off his new ball brilliance in both sets and came up with some classic parsimonious spells. Broad took a little longer to get into the game, but then found a decisive spell just when England desperately needed it. There was a moment to seize. Who else but Broad?
The stock for the pair is as high as it has been in a while. Their long-term records, performances at Lord’s and the series of injuries suffered by their young fast bowlers meant that their selection here was never in doubt.
Yesterday Alex Lees – who played with them for the first time at Lord’s – said their mere presence brought a ‘calm’ to the dressing room and a confidence that England could fight back in a game that had drifted.
Broad, 36 this month, joined Anderson, four years his senior, in never looking too far ahead, promising to take every game as it comes in the fall of his career. But it’s certainly not beyond possibility that this is the last test the pair play on this happiest hunting ground. There are currently no Tests scheduled here next summer, although it is the likeliest setting for a Test against Ireland ahead of next summer’s Ashes.
When asked this week if this was his last test on his home turf, Broad said: “Jimmy will be 40 this year, four years ago did he think 2018 might be his last at Old Trafford?
Probably not. It just keeps you from enjoying the week.
Testing of the Trent Bridge has become a bit rarer in recent years. Although he only missed a test once between 2000 and 2015 (2009), there have only been three ground games since Broad’s eight for 15.
In white-ball cricket, Trent Bridge has become the country’s most predictable ground for runs, but since 2015 England have found conditions harder to read; out of those three in the last six years they have lost two and in last year’s draw against India they were probably saved by last day’s rain.
Even in that match, Anderson found a stunning spell, memorably picking up Virat Kohli’s first pitch, much to the delight of a raucous crowd.
Anderson will advise captain Ben Stokes to look to the sky, not the pitch, when deciding what to do as he sets out to find the swing. There’s nowhere he and Broad would rather have the new ball in their hands.