Lancashire 214 and 98 for 1 (Balderson 44*) lead Nottinghamshire 249 (Hameed 97, Williams 3-31) by 63 runs
Their season’s returns are eerily similar: Anderson has 11 wickets at 24.90; Broad has 11 at 24.54. Neser might be taking a hat-trick and replicating unplayable inswingers for Glamorgan, but Broad and Anderson’s figures are so close to identical that it feels as if it must be some sort of grand masterplan.
Broad did have a minor strop on the second day at Trent Bridge, just to persuade all of us that he was feeling all right. His appeal against Josh Bohannon, on 20, when he jagged the ball through the gate indicated that Broad believed there was an inside edge where the majority saw a trouser-flick. Umpire Rob Bailey was unmoved as Broad stood motionless at the batter’s end as if he was unable to compute the decision.
Anderson managed a few play-and-misses, but he was the lightest-used pace bowler, 13 overs in all, as Nottinghamshire stretched their overnight 119 for 5 into 249. Lancashire, 98 for 1 when rain and bad light closed in after tea, lead by 63.
There is more cricket left in this match than many had supposed and both England bowlers will be calculating how many overs they should contribute for their own well-being. Nearly all England supporters will accept that this is a utilitarian judgment, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is best served by Ashes success. These days, it as pleasure just to see any England player, especially a fast bowler, grace the Championship.
Disappointment that he narrowly missed what would have been a first century of the season doubtless extended to both sets of spectators – not just Notts but those following his former county – because this had been a masterclass in safety-conscious batting on a bowler’s surface. His 1235 Championship runs at 58.80 last season, the captaincy of the Lions, and further consolidation this season all indicate a game in good shape again.
Hameed was 57 overnight and once again he batted with an even tempo, his defence secure, his score predominantly moving along with little dinks and steers into the off side. Anderson forced an inside edge when he swished at a wide one, and a creeper from Tom Bailey also momentarily unbalanced him but that was about it.
One imagines that Haseeb likes predictability, which made Broad an unsettling figure to bat alongside with lunch fast approaching. Lose a wicket then and Notts would have been nine down and Haseeb would have had to recalibrate for an extra half-hour. For Broad to take a single and give him the strike with three balls of the session remaining might normally have been an unwelcome outcome on 94, but he was probably relieved to get the chance to pay out the session quietly.
As it was, Haseeb was the next batter to be dismissed, leaving Broad to be last out as he succumbed to a whirligig swing and a catch at the wicket. The ball appeared to have come off his hip. No wonder he felt the umpire owed him one with the ball later. Broad, incidentally, fell without a care in the world on 249, only one run short of a batting bonus point, an insouciant dismissal which all those of us who prefer to regard bonus points as a blight on the game fully relished.
hameed had shouldered the burden with great composure after Steven Mullaney had fallen to the 18th delivery of the first session, mistiming a ball from Williams to give an easy catch to mid-on, and Brett Hutton, squared up by Bailey, had edged a catch to the keeper.
Nottinghamshire, outstanding in the field on the first day, did not help their cause during Lancashire’s reply with George Balderson surviving two slip catches, to Ben Duckett and Olly Stone, to remain unbeaten on 44.
That being so, Lancashire would have felt slightly happier at the close after an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 82 between Balderson and Josh Bohannon left things evenly poised. After rain-hit draws against Somerset and Essex, the least they will hope for is a fair chance to set their season running. As for Bohannon, he is currently the leading run-getter in the Championship and is putting last season’s stuttering form behind him.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps