Notts and England openers remembered
This article was written in 1986 and is re-run here as part of an occasional series of revisited pieces from the club’s recent past.
Although Tim Robinson and Chris Broad were denied the chance to join forces in Australia [in 1986-7], they’re aiming to spend a lot of time together in the months ahead.
And if the Notts openers continue to score runs at the rate they will claim a place in the record books.
Even though the partnership has been divided at various times because of England calls, they have still managed to share 15 century stands* in first-class matches.
And another seven years at that rate would see them overtake the county record of 45 century stands, which is held by Walter Keeton and Charlie Harris.
Said Robinson: ‘That’s still a very long way off but it gives us a target to aim for and it would be nice to think we could reach it.’
There’s surely been no more successful opening partnership in county cricket in recent years than Robinson and Broad and many people expected them to be given the chance to work together in Australia during the winter.
It wasn’t to be but as Robinson said: ‘It really would be ultimate if we could walk out together to open the batting for England – and I live in hope.
‘When Chris first moved to Trent Bridge, right from the outset we hit it off and, inevitably, the understanding has developed between us over the years.
‘To be honest, we don’t talk about it too much. Most of our planning is done as we walk out to the wicket but we are both experienced enough to know what has to be done.
‘There’s no doubt that it helps to have a left-hander and right-hander together because that interrupts the flow of things for the opposition bowlers and fielders and the fact that Chris is so tall is also an advantage.
‘It’s always important for the openers to have a good understanding because everything is against you with the new ball and fresh bowlers and I think it’s true to say that over the years, we have fed off each other.
‘Chris has always been a good player on the big occasions so I expected him to do well in Australia.
‘He is a very conscious of his own ability. He certainly doesn’t lack confidence although it was amazing to see the transformation to him in the middle of last season.
‘On his own admission, he had a bad time during the first few months and I remember him saying after he had got a ‘pair’ against Leicestershire that things could only get better.
‘They certainly did and after that, he had a purple patch which continued right through the winter.
‘We have spent so much time together at the crease I’m sure I know Chris’s strengths and weaknesses better than he does himself – and the same must be true in reverse.'
‘I enjoy batting with him and watching him fulfil his potential has been fascinating. I think the most significant improvement in his play is that he hits the ball a lot better these days and through that, has become more prepared to dominate the bowing.’
It’s only two years, of course, since Robinson was England’s hero in an Ashes success against Australia and his experience since then serves as a warning for Broad.
He added: ‘The life of a professional cricketer is full of ups and downs. Chris is clearly on a high at the moment and we are well aware that he has set himself standards which won't be easy to live with.’
*They shared twenty century-plus opening stands for Notts, putting them fourth on the County’s all-time lists – still topped by Keeton and Harris – but with the highest average partnership (52.50). They set the bar high right from the start; in their first match as Notts’ opening pair, against Oxford University in April 1984, they made a century stand in each innings – 161 and 220 unbroken.
Robinson and Broad played a dozen tests together but only four as an opening partnership. They had one century opening stand – 119 v Pakistan at Edgbaston in 1987; the largest stand they shared was 168 for the second wicket (Robinson batted at 3) v New Zealand in Christchurch in 1988.
The zenith of Broad’s test career was being awarded International Cricketer of the Season after England's 2-1 Ashes win in Australia in 1986-87.
During this tour he emulated Hobbs, Hammond and Woolmer by scoring hundreds in three successive Tests against Australia. He finished the series with a batting average of 69.57, more than 10 runs ahead of any other player on either side.
Chris Broad played 25 Tests, top score of 162 and an average of 39.54; he made six test centuries. Tim Robinson played a few more tests, 29, and finished with very similar figures – top score 175, average 36.38 and four hundreds.
They each pursued a career in cricket after playing – Chris Broad is an international match referee having adjudicated on more than 100 Test Matches and nearly 350 ODIs. Tim Robinson is an umpire on the First-Class lists and has stood in almost 200 First-Class games and more than a dozen ODIs; he has yet to officiate in a Test match but has been TV umpire and reserve umpire on a number of occasions.