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January 30, 2013
Stuart Broad has arrived in New Zealand "fit and good" to return to England duty.
Broad has not played since the second Test in Mumbai in November, where his 0 for 60 was his second consecutive wicketless Test. Broad was subsequently dropped for the second time in his career.
A heel problem prevented his return as captain for the T20 series, which England drew 1-1 with Eoin Morgan leading the side, before snow denied him the chance to re-join his colleagues in India for the final two matches of the ODI series.
The poor weather has hindered Broad's training programme, so he is glad to be back in warmer climes, arriving a few hours ahead of the rest of the squad who travelled direct from India following Sunday's final ODI.
"I have not done any outdoor running because it has been a bit hazardous at home," Broad said. "But I feel pretty good and look forward to getting going and excited to be here. With the snow back home it has been tricky to really test anything.
"It was disappointing not to get out to India and do some outdoor bowling ready for this tour but we have plenty of time to do some work here leading into the warm-up games and the first Twenty20."
England play two warm-up matches on February 4 and 6 before the first of three T20s on February 9 in Auckland. It will be the first time Broad has captained England since they tumbled out of the World T20 at the Super Eights stage in October.
Broad will be hoping for a return to form after averaging 39.72 with the ball and 14.00 with the bat in his last full Test series - against South Africa in July and August. He has also been short of one-day cricket having missed the ODI series with South Africa in September. His overs at the World T20 were taken for 7.42 runs each.
Short of match-practise, Broad's first task is to feel satisfied that his heel injury has recovered. "When you've not played cricket for five or six weeks, I suppose you go into a game a little bit unsure," he said. "I have done quite a lot of treadmill running, and a lot of spinning, so I'm fit. I just need to test out the impact of it.
"We've got well over a week till the first Twenty20 game, and that should be plenty to get it right."
Broad travelled to Adidas headquarters in Germany to have his boots moderated to help ease the strain. "I have had a bit of adjusting to the foam inside the boot and we will see how that goes outside," he said. "But I have bowled five or six spells of six or seven overs indoors, which felt good. And you'd have thought indoor bowling would be as big a test on the heel as anything.
"I feel fit and good, so where I am at now I feel ready to go."
Longer term for Broad there is the challenge of trying to regain his Test place in what is likely to be a three-man pace attack alongside James Anderson and Steven Finn. It was Finn who initially replaced Broad in India and then Tim Bresnan played the final Test although he is absent from this tour.
Broad began 2012 in impressive form with consistent performances against Pakistan in the UAE and then claimed 11 wickets against West Indies at Lord's before having less of an impact against South Africa and conceded being dropped in India was the right decision.
"I'm quite relaxed, and I know that if I bowl well and hang in there and do the right things in training, then wickets come your way," Broad said. "I had a really good start, first half of the year, and was the leading seamer in the world.
"Then I went three innings without taking a wicket in India and lost my place. That happens and it was probably a good decision, looking back, to leave me out.
"Finny came in and bowled really nicely. Then I picked up that little injury before the final Test match. Personally, the tour didn't go ideally to plan. But we won the Test series and left happy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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