England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day July 30, 2011

Lone Broad keeping England afloat

Stuart Broad has almost single-handedly kept England alive in this pulsating Test match. It's quite a turnaround for someone who was one tough call away from being sent back to county cricket

Firstly with the bat, then with the ball Stuart Broad has almost single-handedly kept England alive in this pulsating Test match. It's quite a turnaround for someone who was one tough call away from being sent back to county cricket, but now he has a career-best 6 for 46 and a hat-trick to his name.

In a neat turn of events Broad was the third victim of the last Test hat-trick when Peter Siddle struck at Brisbane in the opening Test last November. On Friday he inflicted India's first three-in-three in Test cricket and the 12th by an England bowler when he had MS Dhoni caught at slip, Harbhajan Singh lbw despite an edge and clean-bowled Praveen Kumar. The sight of a bowler in full, destructive, flow is thrilling viewing and Broad has shown his capability for such bursts before at The Oval and Durban in 2009. This, though, reached a new level.

His spell with the second new-ball was worth 5 for 5 as, for the second time in two days, England claimed the final session of the day to keep themselves in touch in a match that was drifting away while Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped off Broad when he had 4, added 128. As Broad hustled through the lower order the atmosphere became electric; a hat-trick always conjures huge emotion but the intimacy of English grounds - and Trent Bridge especially - made this a compelling moment.

"The crowd were fantastic today and they lifted us with that second new ball, they knew it was going to be a key period as the players did," Broad said. "It was quite a fearsome atmosphere for the Indian batsmen to come into."

Fearsome, maybe, but Broad still had to keep his cool and it was a mark of his soaring confidence that the hat-trick ball was full at the stumps when so many are often off target as the bowler gets carried away. His family, including father Chris Broad, were in the stands watching. It wasn't Broad's first hat-trick, but he had to go back his teenage years at Oakham School to remember his previous ones.

"The atmosphere wasn't quite as good at school with the parents watching," he joked. "In the context of the game it was important to pick those wickets up quickly so to get a hat-trick was special but it won't mean much if we don't go on and win this Test. You always have fond memories when you win so it's important we go on and build a big score which we have done a lot in the past year."

And that win won't be easy; the last England hat-trick was taken by Ryan Sidebottom, at Hamilton, in a Test that was lost. They have already lost Alastair Cook, have Jonathan Trott injured, are still 43 behind and will face a fairly new ball in the morning. "We are still a little bit behind in this Test but hopefully we can have a blazer of a day tomorrow and put us in the ascendancy," Broad said.

It could be suggested that if England want to be the best in the world then they shouldn't put themselves in such difficult positions. However, the character to keep fighting back is not to be sniffed at and something this team has in bucket loads. Remember the World Cup where each calamitous group-stage defeat was followed by an often mind-boggling victory? There is the danger of inconsistency from them, but they have a belief to come back for a difficult session, day or match.

"There's a lot of positive talking in the dressing room," Broad said. "We are very good at reassessing the position we are in and setting new goals. We knew after tea it would be a huge effort to fight through - we probably weren't expecting to bowl India out - but we wanted to go at two-and-a-half an over and really clog them down then pick up a couple of wickets. To bowl them out was pretty special but Saturday will be our biggest test in this match to see if we can get 300 runs."

Yet for all the emotion created by Broad's hat-trick England didn't make the most of the conditions especially in the first two sessions while dropped catches raised their head again. The match could yet come to be decided by Kevin Pietersen's spill at gully when Yuvraj was in single figures. The fifth-wicket stand with Dravid wasn't terminated until they'd put India in the lead.

Andrew Strauss played down the missed chances before this game - he was guilty of two at Lord's - saying the team catch most on offer, but two more here (Alastair Cook shelled one off Ishant Sharma late in the innings) will frustrate Andy Flower and Richard Halsall, the fielding coach, while Strauss told his team at tea to lift their energy levels.

Dropping Yuvraj was a bit of a concern when he and Dravid were going well," Broad admitted. "We knew that new-ball period would be a huge hour for us. Strauss asked as a tea if we could raise our intensity during that hour to put some pressure on the Indian batsmen. Fortunately there was some swing and the edges came our way. We've got ourselves back in this game. Like I said yesterday India probably won three quarters of the day and we've nicked the last session."

Two post-tea surges have kept England within touching distance, but they can't afford to keep leaving their best performances for so late in the day if they want to extend their series lead in Nottingham. And Broad would probably be grateful for some help.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on July 31, 2011, 22:49 GMT

    @Shan156: OMG! I should have paid more attention! So who the hell was that guy? He said he'd seen my message to meet anyone at Lords! Anyway - It was one of the best days ever at a Test match that day (even though, evidently, I don't remember too much about it!)

  • Shanmugam on July 31, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    5wombats, I didn't meet you at Lord's:-) I don't live in England. In fact, I have never been to England:-)

  • joel on July 31, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    I thought Stuart Broad played well at Lords , hes been incredble in this match ! . Did anyone notice Botham applauding him , after his batting performance . The hat trick kept Englands chances alive . Were playing against a good team here , allthough personally i cannot see anything between these 2 teams . Indias batting perhaps stronger , Englands bowling far superior . Brilliant cricket

  • kumar on July 31, 2011, 12:33 GMT

    This is one of the worst I have ever seen. Former England captain Michael Vaughan, on social networking site Twitter, then asked: "Has Vaseline on the outside edge of the bat saved Laxman's day?". Is this the way an ex-player of ENG should treat a good and humble player like VVS? Did Vaughan lose his mind? This ENG team agreed to use technology and now they are crying in the mid of the series. Previosuly Andy Flower and now Broad, Vauhgan. This ENG is not committed but desperate to win the series and get to #1. So they are ready to do any kind of games. I just hate this kind of Australianish mind games. Even AUS treated India like this back in 2008.

  • Srinivas on July 31, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    See, another of my favourite water-tight classic players Bell making it big! I did take his name yesterday. What a batsman Bell is! Great going Bell. Come on India. Get this danger man! I'm loving this series. Why shouldn't I? All my favourite players - Dravid, KP, Bell, VVS are playing so well. Can't help but say a million thanks to Bell for this lovely lovely knock. Hope he gets to 3 digits but my Indian heart says he should be dismissed. But the Bell Fan in me will be heart broken if he doesn't get one here under pressure. What should I do? Whom should I support? Whom should I pray for? What a game! This is Nirvana for me. I hope India wins!

  • saad on July 31, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    well done broad dhoni has turned out to be the worst player in the world in this series

  • thomas on July 31, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    @ironcobra: Until this series Broard bowled his best test match bowling against the Aussies at the Oval in 2009! We're not talking about the last Ashes series here.

  • thomas on July 31, 2011, 9:58 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas, 5wombats, and Shan156: Agree 100% with you guys, this has been one hell of a series so far - long may it continue. However, there is one point where I beg to disagree with Shan156; there are more than 8 contries playing cricket. I come from Denmark originally and learned my game there. Sure, we weren't good, but we played it, and in the spirit of the game too.

  • Grant on July 31, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    What a great game of cricket. Class bowling from both sides. Some tail end "humpty". a hat-trick. A truely superb century. There is no better sport in the world.

  • Martin on July 31, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    Hey @Dravid_Gravitas! Joined at the hip? I saw Dravid say well bowled to Bresnan. That is respect. I said on another comment that all I'm intersted in is top quality cricket played with good spirit. Well - I'm getting it here! @Shan156 - it was you I met at Lords wasn't it? I'm starting to wonder - I had drunk rather a lot! :-) :-) :-)

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