You never know quite what to expect from Stuart Broad, whose most infuriating quality as a bowler is his tendency to blow hot and cold. But if the temperature at the County Ground yesterday was teeth-chatteringly at the latter extreme, the England fast bowler, figuratively speaking, was on fire.
Broad’s burst of four wickets in 17 deliveries with the second new ball broke promoted Derbyshire’s attempts to stave off a second defeat in three matches, setting up Nottinghamshire for a comfortable win that only a run of heavy showers threatened to deny them.
Just as importantly, it revealed Broad to be in fine fettle at a time of year when he can be a little rusty. He took eight wickets in the match, maintaining his impressive record for Nottinghamshire, and bowled with good pace and control, using the short ball sparingly but effectively and rarely missing the yorker length when he chose that option. There was no sign, either, of the heel injury that affected Broad in India during the first half of England’s winter itinerary.
“Stuart took a bit of time to get going when he came back to us last season but he has not been too long without playing since the last Test in New Zealand and I think that’s important for him,” Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, Mick Newell, said.
“He has hit the ground running this time and he has another chance to bowl against Durham next week, after which you’d like to think he will go back to England in some nice form. He bowled with pace, too. I know that spell with the new ball today was against lower order batsmen but it was still quick, and it was well controlled and well directed.”
Broad seldom gives Nottinghamshire less than full value, rarely though he plays for them. Yesterday’s wickets took his tally to 65 in 12 Championship matches.
He ended Derbyshire’s hopes of escaping this one with a draw. In deficit by 187 on first innings after James Taylor’s measured century, they mounted respectable resistance at first on the final morning, recovering from five down for 143 overnight through the efforts of Dan Redfern and David Wainwright, who looked comfortable against the old ball, which was a much less potent weapon in the hands of Nottinghamshire’s seamers, Broad included.
It was left to Samit Patel to probe away with his left-arm spin but though he managed to extract some slow turn it did not discomfort Redfern, who completed a solid half-century, or Wainwright, with whom he added 79.
But after a sharp shower forced the players off the field for 15 minutes Nottinghamshire took the new ball and Broad trapped Redfern in front with his first delivery, following up in his next over by having Wainwright caught behind off a brutish short ball he could only fend away in self-protection and, next ball, hitting Tom Poynton on the foot, plumb in front.
A 90-minute stoppage followed lunch but after Broad struck again with another toe cruncher, sending Tony Palladino limping back to the pavilion, Harry Gurney, the left-armer, cleaned up Jon Clare. It left Notts needing only 43 to win, which they polished off in short order with only the minor disappointment of losing opener Alex Hales.