At his pre-match press conference, Joe Root, the England captain, had been asked whether anything should be read into a long conversation he had held with the Nottinghamshire pace bowler in Thursday’s practice session in which “it’s fair to say he (Broad) didn’t look particularly happy?”
“Yeah, I mean he’s a bit disappointed at the minute,” said Root, suddenly adopting a grave expression.
“Frank Lampard’s gone for the Derby job instead of the Forest job, and Stuart thought he (Lampard) could be the next Brian Clough!”
Cue smiles all round as Root quickly clarified that he and Broad, an ardent Nottingham Forest supporter, were “just chatting about things in terms of how we want the game to go this week” as opposed to “a one-on-one chat about where he’s at”.
Root added: “I look at last week (when Broad took only one wicket in the nine-wicket defeat in the first Test at Lord’s) as a one-off, and I see this as a great chance for him to be back at his best.”
Root’s whimsical response returned to mind as Broad inspired a much-improved England performance on day one of the Headingley Test, the hosts dismissing Pakistan for 174 before reaching 106-2 at stumps, not bad for a side supposedly in crisis.
The 31-year-old set England in motion with a wicket from the 12th ball of the match, Imam-ul-Haq flashing to Root at third slip, and he struck again with the first delivery of the 10th over, trapping Azhar Ali with one that nipped back.
Broad later had Usman Salahuddin lbw to leave Pakistan 78-6 shortly after lunch, finishing with England’s best figures of 3-38.
Although James Anderson was not far behind with 3-43, and Chris Woakes too with 3-55, Broad was the pick after Pakistan won what Root will no doubt reflect was a good toss to lose.
It certainly looked a good one to win at the time for Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain who played five T20 games for Yorkshire last year.
Conditions appeared good for batting, with hats and sunscreen all round for a crowd of 13,346, and it was not long before former Yorkshire and England captain Geoffrey Boycott was purring on the radio: “Ee, I’d like a bat on that!”
But as England showed three changes to the side that lost at Lord’s, with Keaton Jennings, Chris Woakes and debutant Sam Curran replacing Mark Stoneman, Mark Wood and Ben Stokes, the latter failing a fitness test on his left hamstring, it soon became clear that there was assistance for bowlers, with the ball swinging around in sultry temperatures.
Broad might have had a wicket with only his second ball, the eighth of the game, when Imam-ul-Haq was adjudged lbw only for the decision to be overturned on review.
He was instantly impressive from the Kirkstall Lane end, posing problems with a full length ideally suited to the pitch and conditions.
At the other end, behind which workmen engaged in constructing the new Football Stand looked on agog, James Anderson was not quite so potent or probing.
Like Broad, however, he was parsimonious in the extreme, Pakistan taking 27 balls and 20 minutes to score their first run, prompting some to question why England could be so ineffective one week and so effective the next.
The third wicket fell at 49 when Woakes, having replaced Anderson at the Football Stand end, had Haris Sohail caught at second slip by Dawid Malan.
Replays showed that Salahuddin then gloved Woakes to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow before he had scored, England failing to call for a review.
But Pakistan did lose a fourth wicket before lunch when Woakes had Asad Shafiq caught at first slip by Alastair Cook at the second attempt.
After the break, three wickets went in quick succession as Sarfraz was bowled trying to flick Anderson to leg, Salahuddin trapped by Broad – who celebrated before the finger went up –and Faheem Ashraf lbw to Anderson, whose potency increased.
But from 79-7, Pakistan’s last three wickets added 95 runs, Shadab Khan leading the way with a Test-best innings of 56 from No 7 – giving him his third half-century in only his fourth game.
It was a counter-attacking effort from the 19-year-old leg-spinner, who rather than wait for the ball to arrive with his name on it, struck 10 fours before he was last out mowing to deep mid-wicket to give fellow 19-year-old Curran his first Test wicket.
Earlier, Mohammad Amir threw the bat at Anderson and was caught behind, while Hasan Ali clipped back a return catch to Woakes after adding 43 for the ninth wicket with Shadab, the highest partnership of the innings.
The evening session brought out the best batting conditions and England skilfully took advantage.
Cook, playing his 154th consecutive Test, beating Allan Border’s record, added 53 for the first wicket with new opener Jennings, who played well before edging Ashraf behind.
Cook and Root compiled 51 before Cook gloved an attempted pull to the keeper, Root finishing the day unbeaten on 29 from 50 balls.
At the end of it all, England’s body language was unrecognisable from the slumped shoulders of Lord’s.