While the weather at this point of the Specsavers County Championship season remains wholly unpredictable, one thing that you can guarantee is Stuart Broad’s desire to play as much County Championship cricket for Nottinghamshire as he can.
The 31-year-old paceman’s hectic international schedule – and will by the ECB to keep him fit for key England fixtures – has, for several seasons now, severely limited his availability to play for the county of his birth.
In fact, last year’s 16 games was very much an exception to the rule and only made possible because the Champions Trophy was held early in the season, meaning Broad was given licence to figure in five Championship matches and the entirety of the Royal London One-Day-winning campaign (11 games).
As you might expect, such a repeat is not on the cards – the latest member of the 400 Test wickets club is initially available for three Specsavers County Championship matches only, although there is a possibility that could be extended to the early 50-over action too.
But it doesn’t mean those matches are any less important to Broad, who is determined to make an impact at county level while he can and help establish Notts at the higher Division One level following their promotion from Division Two at the end of 2017.
The number eight is set to get his county season up and running at Blackfinch New Road, Worcestershire tomorrow (Friday, 11am start) and will then be available for matches at Trent Bridge against Hampshire and Lancashire, providing he encounters no injury problems.
”I can’t wait to get going on Friday as I always love coming back to play for Notts,” said Broad. “Even being at the team meetings, though I haven’t yet played, and seeing the plans for the new season makes it very exciting.
“We are away for the first month of the season with the building work going on here at Trent Bridge but it’s important to pick up away points because we know we are a dangerous team at home.
“We know it’s going to be a step up into Division One and that means that our players are going to have to perform consistently throughout. Hopefully I can play my part while I am with the team.”
Broad bounced back to form in the Test arena with 6-54 and 2-72 in the second and final Test at Christchurch at the beginning of the month.
That followed some solitary practice on his action in the Trent Bridge indoor nets in February where he went back to basics.
He said: “The ball was coming out well in New Zealand after doing quite a lot of work on my action in February. It felt like I got some things to click.
“It was just a shame that from a team point of view we couldn’t quite force the victory in Christchurch and get back in that series.
“But the things I worked on with the seam position proved it was working, bringing the outside edge to the right-hander into play and the lbw to the left-hander. That’s something for me to continue now and see how I go for Notts in English conditions.”
While Notts will have played their first three games in a row away from Trent Bridge to start the season – Worcestershire follows games at Lancashire (a six-wicket win) and Yorkshire (a 164-run defeat) – the opposite will happen in the finals stages of the campaign when they will be at home to Yorkshire, Essex and then Somerset.
Broad believes that could be a considerable advantage, especially if Peter Moores’ side are going well in the closing stages.
“It’s a very interesting dynamic to our season in that we finish with three home games in September,” he said. “If we can get ourselves in a really good position, then playing at Trent Bridge is a really big advantage at the end.
“On the flip side of that, it adds a bit more pressure on us at the start to have some success, but with the toss rule, and having the option to bowl, in April, is quite a good option to have.
“I’m not saying we will definitely bowl, but with how much water has been around and the cloudy conditions that might be possible, the toss is probably more in favour in April than September, so that could play in our favour.”
Meanwhile, Broad's long-time opening partner for England, Jimmy Anderson, will be available for Lancashire when they visit Trent Bridge for their game against Notts starting on 11 May, the ECB have confirmed.
Nottinghamshire squad to face Worcestershire: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (wkt), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
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