Nottinghamshire 273 (Patterson-White 73*, Rhodes 4-52) and 128 for 2 (Hameed 51*, Clarke 50*) lead Warwickshire 201 (Hain 72, Broad 3-50) by 200 runs
Nottinghamshire have given themselves an excellent opportunity to secure their first win in first-class cricket for almost three years by dominating the second day of the Championship match against Warwickshire.
Notts have gone 27 Championship matches without a win – it’s 28 if you include all first-class games – with the most recent victory coming in June 2018.
But at the halfway stage of the match against Warwickshire, they lead by 200 runs with eight wickets in hand. On a surface offering just a little bit of variable bounce, batting fourth could prove challenging.
To make matters worse for Warwickshire, they look set to be without Dom Sibley for the rest of the game. Sibley was diagnosed with a small fracture of a finger on his right hand after dropping a chance at slip on the first day and was unable to bat in the first innings. While Warwickshire have not ruled out his further involvement, it does seem highly unlikely – not least as they will be reluctant to risk further damage to that finger.
While the injury is not thought to be serious – he should have recovered long before the Test series against New Zealand – he is likely to miss the next few rounds of games. With that in mind, there might be more thought given to playing Pieter Malan and Hanuma Vihari in the same side. Malan, who now has his visa, is expected to be available from May 6.
The short-term loss of Sibley is significant, though. He averages 205.50 against Nottinghamshire in first-class cricket – albeit over a sample size of just three games – with a lowest score of 87. The last time these teams met, in 2019, he made an unbeaten 215 in the first innings and 109 more in the second.
If Nottinghamshire do go on to win, they will be grateful for the contribution of Stuart Broad. In claiming three of Warwickshire’s top four – albeit one of them a nightwatchman – Broad gave his side a grip on the game which they show no sign of relenting.
It was typical modern Broad, really. Threatening the stumps relentlessly, he struck with the second ball of the day – the left-handed Will Rhodes edging one which demanded a stroke from round the wicket – and returned to dismiss the stubborn Danny Briggs with one that held its line.
That Briggs wicket took Broad to something of a milestone: his 150th first-class wicket for Nottinghamshire. The fact that it has taken Broad so long to reach the figure – he made his first-class debut for the side in 2008 – is a reflection of the modern game. England duty has dominated ever since he made his Test debut that same year. His more-than-respectable average of 23.88 confirms his commitment on the occasions he has been available.
It bears reiterating that it was Broad’s choice to play in this game. The England management originally had him scheduled to take another week off. But such is his enthusiasm to play, he asked to return early and has led the attack with authority.
“It’s great to be training and playing here again,” he said afterwards. “Even without the crowds there is an aura about the place and it is always easy for me to feel at home again when I come back.
“I pride myself on trying to set the tone so it was nice for me to get wickets early in my spells. I thought as a bowling unit the pressure we created all day was pretty strong and we almost deserved a little bit more, but we put a few chances down.”
This was a satisfying day for Nottinghamshire. As well as seeing their seam attack combine well, they watched a couple of their talented young batters, Joe Clarke and Haseeb Hameed, batted with assurance and fluency in reaching half-centuries in the second innings.
Hameed’s forcing strokes off the back foot – reminiscent of Mike Atherton – were pleasing, but Clarke’s back-foot drive for four off Olly Stone was the shot of the day; a thing of real beauty. Given the depth of talent in this squad, it really is hard to fathom that they have gone winless for so long.
It’s wasn’t perfect, though. Warwickshire’s batsmen had three reprieves within the space of a few minutes in the morning session, with Sam Hain (on 24) and Briggs (on 19) both surviving edges to the slip cordon where Lyndon James was unable to cling on. The unfortunate bowler on both occasions, Dane Patterson, also had Briggs (still on 19) caught and bowled, only to learn that he had delivered a no-ball.
Patterson won belated rewards at the end of the innings. He claimed Warwickshire’s final three wickets without conceding a run. Figures of 3 for 61 will feel much better than 0 for 61.
In Sibley’s absence, only Hain mounted meaningful resistance in recording his highest first-class score since September 2019. This is a big year for Hain. While his long-term first-class record is respectable – he averages 35.90 – he hasn’t quite lived up to early expectations. He made his debut for Australia U19 as a 16-year-old, after all, and, as an 18-year-old, broke Ian Bell’s record to become Warwickshire’s youngest first-class centurion. Not long afterwards, he became the club’s youngest double-centurion, too. There were six centuries in his first 18 first-class games up to July 2015.
But there have only been four more since. And while his List A record remains phenomenal – at 59.78, he has the highest average in history of anyone with a minimum of 50 innings – he averaged only 18.25 in first-class cricket in 2020 and has slipped some way down the reckoning for a Test place. That red ball, nipping around laterally far more than its white counterpart, tends to expose technical flaws.
You can see why the selectors might have some reservations. His predilection for the leg side renders him something of a leg-before candidate – invariably bowlers have their hands to their heads even while the ball is skipping over the square-leg boundary – while the limitations of his front-foot approach were demonstrated when the distinctly sharp Zak Chappell persuaded one to lift sharply from just back of a good length. Hain, unable to move out of the way, was fortunate to see the ball fly just out of reach off the shoulder of the bat.
The talent is obvious, though. Leaving well outside off, he invites bowlers to straighten their line and is then merciless off his legs. In partnership with the admirably determined Briggs, he added 73 for Warwickshire’s fourth wicket and, while he was there, gave his side hopes of parity. It was something of a surprise when he missed a straight one from Liam Patterson-White.
It may be the dismissal of Tim Bresnan that most concerns Warwickshire, though. He was caught off the glove by one that reared off the surface and ballooned to point. It was not an encouraging sight for a team likely to be chasing a demanding target in the fourth innings.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo