Stuart Broad warms up for England recall, but red-hot Dane Paterson swipes the story
Eight-wicket haul is best at Trent Bridge since Broad's Ashes rampage in 2015
Nottinghamshire 203 for 7 (Hameed 53, Duckett 50) lead Worcestershire 159 (Paterson 8-52) by 44 runs
Ben Stokes had been officially confirmed as England captain and Stokes had made it abundantly clear he wanted Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson back in the Test side. Rob Key is not about to argue. He was happy to proclaim that all things being equal the skipper's opinion will be heeded.
The condemned man traditionally gets a last wish, but in times of crisis in England cricket, it works the other way around and he gets the first one.
For Broad, the timing was perfect as he returned to competitive action for the first time since the Hobart Test, launching a three-match campaign to regain the Test place he lost for the tour of the Caribbean. Suddenly, he was pushing against an open door. Just land it on the cut strip, give the impression that he was in decent enough order, and a place against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2 would rightfully be his.
However, while Broad limbers up for the fray, his Nottinghamshire colleagues are four matches into the Championship season: lines and length already ingrained. He may have dominated the headlines, but monopolizing the match was a different matter. James Taylor, on hand as head scout (his job title these days apparently, although these things appear to be somewhat fluid at the moment), will report back approvingly enough on his less-than-flattering figures of 1 for 42 in eight overs, but it was the South African Dane Paterson who sent Worcestershire packing with 8 for 52.
Key's message will have made encouraging reading on his return to the dressing room. "One of the first things Ben Stokes said was 'Jimmy and Broady are coming back' and I agree. It might've been a different story had we not agreed. But it wasn't up for debate."
Elite players are judged by different criteria. Broad's emotional commitment to Nottinghamshire should not be questioned, but for him Trent Bridge was part-Championship match, part-training ground, and whether his England career continues at 35 will not be decided on the domestic circuit.
Paterson, deceptively skilful, but forever on the fringes of the South Africa side, is used to being an under-the-radar bowler. While everyone was wondering whether Broad would wreak havoc on a flavoursome pitch that might have been designed to knock years off him, it was Paterson who bowled with admirable discernment, moving the ball just enough, in both directions, a quality support actor out-performing the star name.
Paterson's greatest day was also a reminder of Broad's prowess, such is the lustre of the established, world-class player. It was the best return at Trent Bridge since that enchanting day seven summers ago when Australia were bundled out for 60 before lunch and Broad took 8 for 15 and treated us to enough excited facial expressions for a debutante's ball.
Conditions were slightly less favourable for the seamers on this occasion, although neither did this green-and-brown striped pitch fulfil the ECB edict that English quicks should properly be fodder on batting-friendly surfaces. Totals are much higher this season as a result of their lobbying, but presumably Broad gets some sort of dispensation - cricket's version of a frequent flyer bonus where there is a little extra moisture in the service and the mower's blades go up a notch.
The optimistic slant for England is that Broad looked fit and eager, marching back to his mark in that haughty-jaunty manner of his, and running in to good purpose. He began with four slips and, when Jake Libby thick-edged his first ball through backward point, and he responded incredulously, one hand raised to the heavens, and the other covering his mouth, it was briefly 2015 all over again. He had Libby caught at the wicket in his third over with one that bounced and left him, a decent scalp to start. Ed Pollock, though, batted as if he was on a speed date, about to be turfed out of the game at any moment, and when he drove on the up through extra cover, Broad withdrew with initial figures of 1 for 30 in four and reflected upon the rashness of youth.
But what of Paterson, cricket's connoisseurs are rightfully asking? He took eight wickets after all. He was almost rested out of this game to make way for Broad, only for the Australian, James Pattinson, to report a back twinge and offer to stand down instead. He replaced Broad at the Pavilion End and his first ball, seaming across the left-hander, ended Pollock's tomfoolery with a catch at slip. Azhar Ali followed in his second over, jabbing at one that held its line.
From then on, Paterson's control was impeccable, and by the time another Nottinghamshire bowler found reward - Luke Fletcher, who had Dillon Pennington caught at the wicket - it brought Worcestershire's innings to an end for 159 after only 41 overs.
Brett D'Oliveira fell to a ball that nibbled away slightly, Ed Barnard played on, attempting a decorative leave, and Ben Cox was lbw to one that came back. Jack Haynes showed up best of all and, after he reached 36 from 95 balls, it took the best ball of the lot, bouncing and leaving him, to dismiss him. Charlie Morris was the one batter betrayed by the pitch as one rattled back low to bowl him.
Nottinghamshire, batting under floodlights, made as if they would put the surface into perspective. Despite their first-game hiccup against Glamorgan, they are vastly superior to every side in this Division, especially in their stock of seam bowlers, and only carelessness seems likely to stop them taking the title. And they do display quite a lot of it.
They had 70 on the board in 17 overs by the time Libby's throw from the cover boundary ran out Ben Slater attempting a third. Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett made fifties (Duckett's fourth in a row; Hameed's first of the season) then departed.
Worcestershire conceded a first-innings lead with only three wickets taken, but they blocked out the chill in their bones and hung in the match. Joe Clarke, who was on stand-by for the West Indies tour, is short of runs, rendering the morality debate over whether he deserves to be considered for England largely superfluous. He chased one that left him, and four wickets fell for 23, the most wasteful when Tom Moores called Liam Patterson-White for a high-risk single to cover and saw him run out by Josh Baker's excellent pick up and throw from cover.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps