Hales' classy hundred upstages Broad haul as Notts fight back

Somerset 386 Nottinghamshire 303-5
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The Independent Online

Stuart Broad ensured he remained the centre of attention here by picking up the 13th five-wicket haul of his career but there was a worthier claimant for the day's headlines in Alex Hales, a 22-year-old batsman who is beginning to warrant the attention of the England selectors in a way that looks unlikely to be a passing fancy.

Yesterday, he passed 50 for the 15th time in 46 first-class innings and, better still, he overcame his tendency thus far to fail to convert. He is unbeaten on 130 overnight, having given Nottinghamshire the innings of substance that was vital after Somerset had stretched their total to 386.

It was only his second first-class century, but for a natural stroke player whose instinct is to attack, Trent Bridge is not the easiest place for a batsman to hone his craft. A broken jaw inflicted by a ball from Yorkshire's Ajmal Shahzad early in May, moreover, has hardly been conducive to uninhibited progress.

Yet he has scores of 50 or above in six of his last eight first-class innings either side of the injury, even though yesterday was not without errors, including escapes on 59 and 68, albeit to difficult chances.

He went to 50 with a four and celebrated with a six off Murali Kartik, but mindful of having been out six times in the 80s and 90s, he negotiated the last 15 runs of the century with due care, before finally being presented with an opportunity to cut Kartik for four to move to 102, which he celebrated with a clenched fist, which seemed to signal determination and relief.

His century followed a fluent 57 from Adam Voges in a stand of 101 for the fourth wicket that looked to have the legs to go further had the Australian not left a ball from Adam Dibble that cut back and took his off stump. It was the 20-year-old seamer Dibble's first Championship wicket.

Broad's five-for was his first since he took 8 for 52 against Warwickshire last July. Yesterday's three victims – Steve Kirby, Dibble and Kartik – were hardly of the calibre he will face if he does keep his England place for the opening Test next week but if national selector Geoff Miller left with doubts still in his mind he will at least have been encouraged.

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