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June 25, 2011
One way for Stuart Broad to console himself after his first game as captain ended in a nine-wicket thrashing is that things can only get better from here. He'll have to wait a while, though, for a chance to put things right as after three days in charge of the team he's now handing over control to Alastair Cook and won't lead England again until the end of August against India.
It's easy to over analyse Twenty20 cricket - as Mahela Jayawardene said after his Man-of-the-Match display 'it's a simple game' - and once England had been restricted to 136 for 9 it was always going to be mighty difficult for Broad to inspire a turnaround. When the first three overs went for 31 it was nigh on impossible.
"Going out to bowl with only 136 on the board we knew we needed early wickets," he said. "I think [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Mahela] Jayawardene showed their experience to not give us a sniff to open up an end. We were thoroughly outplayed, but Sri Lanka played well."
Thilina Kandamby, the Sri Lanka captain who was also in charge for the first time, admitted his match was easier. "It was fun today," he said, but gave Broad a few words of comfort. "There's nothing much you can do when Mahela and Sanga are going well because they are world-class players. You just have to be positive and take some wickets."
The turning point, though, came well before Sangakkara and Jayawardene knocked off the runs when Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen departed in consecutive overs. Outside of that pair England only managed one other boundary in the innings as 41 runs were eked out in the final 8.3 overs.
"We got off to a sluggish start, but the way KP and Morgs played was fantastic," Broad said. "They showed they could clear the boundaries and we got a lot of momentum from that. So to lose both those guys in consecutive overs stalled the innings a bit and no one could grab it by the scruff of the neck to hit some later boundaries."
Broad could have taken the new ball to lead from the front rather than give it to the inexperienced pair of Chris Woakes and Jade Dernbach. He bowled first change at the World Twenty20 in West Indies, but was behind Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan who were settled in their roles. However, his most interesting decision came before play when Ian Bell wasn't included in the starting XI.
It won't have been a selection based purely on Broad's thoughts - the captain and coach work very closely together - but it was a brave move on captaincy debut to omit a batsman in the form of his life regardless of the format, especially with Ravi Bopara in poor form and Luke Wright an inconsistent performer.
"The performance isn't down to one man not being in the side," Broad said. "At the top of the order [Craig] Kieswetter and [Michael] Lumb had shown a fantastic tempo in the county game and also at the World Twenty20. In the middle order that extra bowling option felt necessary especially on a ground like Bristol where a bowler can go the distance. Belly has been in top form in the Tests but I don't put our defeat down to not having him in the side."
Bell will hope for a recall for the first one-day international on Tuesday but that won't be down to Broad. Now it's over to Cook.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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