Broad braced for leadership debut
Two new international captains will go head-to-head in Bristol on Saturday as both England and Sri Lanka get a glimpse of the future. However, while Thilina Kandamby is only filling in for the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan, Stuart Broad is setting out on the road that will take him and his team towards the defence of their World Twenty20 crown next year in Sri Lanka.
There is certainly no shortage of international captains between these two sides at present. England will be led by Broad in Bristol, then Alastair Cook for the one-day internationals having had Andrew Strauss at the helm throughout the recent Test series. Meanwhile, Kumar Sangakkara was in charge of Sri Lanka for the final Test and now Kandamby takes on the job as Dilshan's thumb heals. In the long term Angelo Mathews, the hugely talented allrounder who will have a fitness test before the Twenty20, is viewed as the captain-in-waiting.
Given that Broad is part of England's long-term planning, it is his leadership debut that provides the most interest. Kandamby expressed surprise when informed that Broad had not captained England at either Under-19 or A-team level, but didn't think it would make a huge difference. "He has played a lot of international cricket and knows what happens."
Broad, who turned 25 on the eve of the match, comfortably outdoes Kandamby on Twenty20 experience with 29 matches to four. Yet he knows he'll have to learn on his feet, even though has been earmarked as captaincy material since the tour of West Indies in 2009 when he led an inter-squad match in St Kitts and impressed Andy Flower.
"That's part and parcel of getting picked for England quite young is you never have a chance to captain a side at a younger age," he said. "But I always have a mindset when I walk out onto the pitch that I have to think like a captain about field placements and what balls to deliver. I've been very fortunate to play under the likes Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood - some brilliant captains - and I've learnt a lot. I feel 100% ready to lead the side."
This is a job that comes with expectations as, for the first time, England have the opportunity to defend a global title next year. Under Paul Collingwood they established a Twenty20 world record of eight consecutive victories, a run which only ended in their most recent match - Collingwood's last as captain - against Australia at Melbourne.
"I don't think we have to change a huge amount in this Twenty20 side because we've had some success," Broad said. "We are World Twenty20 champions and went on an unbeaten run so we have some very good principles that we perform to. I'm obviously going to have my own ideas and I'm very keen for the guys to have role clarity in what they are doing, but we certainly aren't reinventing the wheel."
Broad faces the difficulty, though, of captaining the side in fits and starts. Twenty20 internationals remain thin on the ground - England have played four since winning the world title - and, even with two extra matches in the pipeline against West Indies in September, Broad is likely to have led England in a single-figure number of games by the next World Twenty20.
"We have to make all the games count," he said. "I've reiterated to the players how we need to make every ball count in this game and learn as much as we can. As a captain I'll dive at any chance to gain more experience. There was a bit of concern we didn't have enough T20 cricket leading into the next World Cup, so the thought of having two more games is pleasing for the guys in the T20 side."
England's previous new Twenty20 captain was Cook, who was actually younger than Broad when he stood in for Collingwood against South Africa in 2009, and it was noticeable how quickly Cook lost control of the situation. Admittedly, Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman were launching the attack onto Centurion's grass banks with regularity, but Cook still appeared overwhelmed by advice that came from all corners. Broad knows he'll have to remain focused under extreme pressure.
"I'm a big believer in the guy who is going to be delivering that ball so there's no point in the cover fielder telling him he needs a deep extra cover if he's going to be bowling a bouncer or something," he said. "I'm very open to ideas and can listen and filter them through, but the key is talking with the bowler and decide where he wants to bowl that ball. I work very closely with these bowlers in training every day and get on very well with them, so if that's clear I see us having no problems."
Ahead of his big day, Broad has been tapping into some experienced Twenty20 minds to help him prepare. He has spoken to Collingwood - "between his rounds of golf" - but it was on the golf course himself where David Hussey, Nottinghamshire's Twenty20 captain, gave Broad some valuable advice.
"The biggest tip I've been given is that you have a bit more time than you think," Broad said. "He said not to be frightened to take a bit of time out of the game to speak to your bowlers. If we're rushing around like headless chickens in the last two overs I've got it a bit wrong, but I'll certainly be taking a few breaths to make sure we've got it clear."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo