The Ashes begin in Australia next week, and as usual, several personal battles and narratives will take centre stage. For fans of Nottinghamshire CCC however, they will have particular interest in the exploits of two of their own.
England great Stuart Broad and first-time Ashes tourist Haseeb Hameed will have a closer following in the East Midlands. Born in Nottingham, Broad has been a mainstay for both Notts and England for the last 12 years and has cemented himself as a great of both sides. Even managing to get a tram named after him.
Haseeb Hameed may have been playing first class cricket since 2015, but he is still young. A torrid few years at Lancashire following his England breakthrough against India saw Hameed make the switch to Trent Bridge in 2020. His upturn in form has coincided with Nottinghamshire’s mini-renaissance as a first-class side, and earned him an England recall last summer.
But how will they fare against the old enemy?
For Broad, Australia really are the old enemy, he has taken 118 wickets against the Baggy Greens over his career, from his first Ashes series in 2009. He has had intense battles with various Australian sides over the years, emerging victorious 4 times.
Broad’s record against the Australians in Australia however, is significantly weaker, as is the case for most overseas bowlers. As one part of an aging fast bowling duo, Broad may be likely to take more of a backseat whilst Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood back up James Anderson. Broad’s battles with David Warner (most notably in 2019) have been must-watch entertainment so fans will be hoping to see more of the same over the festive period.
Hameed on the other hand, has played just six Test matches and will be looking to follow up his solid but unspectacular return against India with some much needed stability against a fiery Australian line-up. One of the most popular figures in English cricket, Hameed has endeared himself to English fans since his debut series in India back in 2016 and another showing of his signature brand of elegant obduracy will do no damage to his reputation.
Hameed will not be up against Nottinghamshire teammate James Pattinson who retired from international cricket for Australia to pursue a career in English domestic cricket.
Even without James Pattinson, Australia can boast a very strong pace attack, with Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in serious form, and Hameed’s relative weakness against high pace, this series will be a real Test for the Bolton born right-hander.
So it may be slim pickings for Nottinghamshire’s men on this tour, but if Broad can summon up some throwback performances when picked, and Hameed can build on his promising return and provide some stability at the top of the order, then they could be a real asset.
The first Ashes Test begins on December 8th at midnight (GMT) in Brisbane, providing latest Covid restrictions do not hamper preparation.
In England’s current warm-up game against a young Lions side, Hameed was bowled for 7 by Chris Woakes and Broad went wicketless in 11 overs.
This year’s iteration has been the most chaotic build up to an Ashes in recent memory, with Covid restrictions, racism and sexism scandals for either side, and uncertainty over the tourists’ mere presence in the country.
Whilst there is plenty of pessimism over England’s Ashes hopes, if Nottinghamshire’s own can seize their chance, with Broad opening up old wounds, and Hameed batting time, England have every chance of causing an upset.
So fear not, Notts fans, there is plenty to be cautiously optimistic for in five days time, it’s been a while since you’ve been able to say that.
The Test can be watched live on BT Sport for UK viewers.