Trescothick leads fightback after Hales 184
Somerset 386 and 197 for 2 v Nottinghamshire 492
Say what you like about Stuart Broad, but rarely does he bowl a spell in which nothing happens. This was a day on which Alex Hales extended his second-day century to a magnificent 184 and Andre Adams won a hugely entertaining duel with combustible fast bowler Steve Kirby with by swelling his tally of sixes to the season to 27 as Nottinghamshire carved out an unlikely 106-run lead.
But Broad somehow made himself the talking point by bowling two spells of such contrast that he could have been Steve Harmison wearing a blond wig. The first was absolutely dreadful, with both line and length all over the place. From 24 balls bowled, he conceded 30 runs, the bulk of them to a properly grateful Marcus Trescothick, who helped himself to four boundaries from the first two overs, all pinged away effortlessly backward of square on the off-side. Chris Read, who had supportively talked up Broad's bowling at stumps on Tuesday, sent his man into the outfield to reflect.
As Broad contemplated the elusiveness of his form, Trescothick went about his business in his customary, imperious style and Nottinghamshire's lead began to vanish at an alarming rate. Trescothick reached 50 for the ninth time this season, having turned four of the previous eight into hundreds. Read took a brilliant leg-side catch to dismiss Arul Suppiah, fending off a lifting ball from Andre Adams that swung into his body, but otherwise Notts seemed powerless to halt the traffic in runs.
The lead was all but wiped out when Broad came back after tea. Disgruntled Nottinghamshire fans contemplated more carnage. Yet what happened? Quite the opposite - eight overs bowled, this time with pace, bounce and, crucially, full control of length and direction. And, for more than good measure, the wicket that mattered, too - of Trescothick on 86 - from a ball that climbed unplayably and unavoidably on the former England opener, brushing glove or bat handle on its way into Read's reliable grasp. This was brilliant bowling and how Broad celebrated, having stepped into the spotlight again when really it belonged to others, most notably Hales.
Although the pitch looked much less green than it had at the start of the match, batting on the third morning had been scarcely more comfortable than the first two, amply illustrated when Alex Hales, 130 overnight, took 45 minutes to add the seven runs he needed to pass his previous highest score, the 136 he made against Hampshire here last season.
Nonetheless, 117 were added in the morning session. Chris Read, a batsman seldom willingly pinned down, pulled Adam Dibble for six over mid-wicket before a full, straight ball from Peter Trego trapped him in the crease, denying him a half-century in a stand of 106 with Hales. Read's departure merely ushered in Paul Franks, who has few peers among specialist number eights, as he demonstrated in a 32-ball 28 before a tickle to Craig Kieswetter off Murali Kartik stopped him in his tracks.
It was all hugely frustrating to Steve Kirby and Charl Willoughby, who had bowled well with the second new ball without an ounce of luck. Kirby, not for the first time, donned his pantomime villain's demeanour after lunch. The crowd here enjoy a bit of banter and played their part only too willingly as Kirby stomped and scowled, guffawing loudly at his spurious appeal for a catch when Hales played a ball to cover that so plainly did not not carry than even James Hildreth, the fielder, showed no interest.
Had he been Dominic Cork, the next few minutes would have been spiced by several return volleys, but the interaction instead seemed to tickle Kirby's sense of humour. Shortly afterwards, bowling to Andre Adams, he gripped the ball as if he were about to propel it like a javelin, shaking it in his right hand as he ran in, and could only laugh at himself as the umpires ticked him off.
As it happens, though, it was Adams who had the last laugh, hooking the next ball for six, with a couple more maximums in Kirby's next over, which went for 21. Adams, whose batting methodology rarely offers any surprises, has hit 27 sixes in the Championship this season, representing 41.2 per cent of his total runs scored. The next highest tally is Graham Napier's 16.
Meanwhile, Willoughby earned some belated reward after Broad had chipped in a cameo 21, dismissing the England bowler when Kieswetter, atoning for a missed stumping when Hales was on 180, produced an astonishing piece of levitation and a stunning catch.
Hales, whose century had been only his second, must have had visions of making it a double but as Willoughby conjured up another delivery that lifted and moved away off a pitch still offering good bounce and carry, Hales nibbled and was caught behind. The left-armer claimed his third success, placing eight fielders on the boundary for Adams, who had hit 33 off 14 balls, only to surprise him with a leg-stump Yorker.
Trescothick's departure raised expectations for Nottinghamshire but in truth the requirement was to have Somerset four or five down before the lead was overturned and the script has not gone to plan.
Nick Compton is unbeaten on 46, having survived a couple more overs from Broad at the close, and Somerset are 91 in front, making a draw the likeliest outcome.