STUART Broad warmed up for England duty with three wickets to help Nottinghamshire’s fightback against Essex after Sir Alastair Cook’s career-best first-class score at Trent Bridge.

Cook prospered in his record-breaking England career despite a top score of 50 at the ground in 19 Test innings, while he came into this LV= Insurance County Championship fixture averaging 21.66 this season.

The former England captain’s largely assured 72 led Essex to 151 for one in mid-afternoon on the opening day but his dismissal saw the visitors lose their way as they were all out for 298 before stumps.

Broad made the initial breakthrough after Nottinghamshire decided to field first then struck twice more after the second new ball was taken – with Brett Hutton the pick of the attack with four for 69.

This is Broad’s final outing before linking up with England for the Lord’s Test against Ireland in a fortnight and he appeared in good order, beating the bat on multiple occasions while he also drew the under-edge of former England team-mate Cook, only for the ball to bounce in front of the wicketkeeper.

Broad started his day being clipped then cut for fours by Nick Browne but soon displayed his customary celebrappeal after thudding into the opener’s pads from around the wicket, with the umpire obliging.

A showdown with Cook was all too brief initially, with the Essex opener facing only seven balls from his long-time international colleague in the morning session.

Cook instead cashed in against Broad’s junior team-mates when they offered width, authoritative with his favoured cuts and pulls as the left-hander put on 135 alongside the more obdurate Tom Westley.

Cook was given a minor scare by Broad after lunch but just as the 38-year-old looked set for his first century since last July – this was only the second time in 16 attempts he had passed 50 – an attempted drive off Dane Paterson drew the edge and Calvin Harrison took a fantastic one-handed slip catch low to his left.

Westley was dropped twice but eventually fell for 66 after chopping on to his stumps while Dan Lawrence, selected as England’s batting cover for the Ireland match, made a low-key 16 before advancing to Hutton and nibbling through to Joe Clarke.

When Matt Critchley fell in identical fashion, Essex had lost four wickets for just 44 runs before Adam Rossington (35) and Simon Harmer (46) combined to lead them into safer waters.

However, Nottinghamshire immediately took the new ball when available and Broad struck with the fifth ball, squaring up Harmer, who played down the wrong line and was struck on the front pad.

Rossington soon joined him after playing across one from Hutton before Matt Montgomery held on well at third slip as Broad snared Shane Snater, with the Essex tail crumpling in a heap as they lost their last five wickets for the addition of just 28 runs.

Ben Slater and Haseeb Hameed led Nottinghamshire to 13 without loss after three overs before the close.