England v India, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 22, 2012

Broad encouraged by fearlessness of youth

For players in the middle order of a Twenty20 side there is precious little time to get settled, but for Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler that does not appear to be a problem

Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler faced only 12 balls between them against Afghanistan and, in the aftermath of a comprehensive victory, they barely warranted a mention, but England's Twenty20 captain, Stuart Broad, was clearly excited that his two young batsmen had done all that was asked of them ahead of Saturday's Group A tie against India.

Broad's tale of Bairstow's arrival at the crease against Afghanistan with only 10 balls remaining, encapsulated the brazen approach of two unproven players who England hope will maintain the upbeat mood throughout the tournament.

Luke Wright, who finished unbeaten on 99, rightly took the plaudits, but Buttler and Bairstow somehow found time to make an impact as England added 55 in the last three overs.

"Jonny's first ball yesterday, I was speaking to Wrighty about it last night," Broad said. "Jonny said, 'What's it doing?' Wrighty said, `It looks like he's going for yorkers but he's not quite got it right.' Jonny said, 'OK, I'll have a look.' First ball he hits him out of the ground, walks up to Wrighty and says, 'Yes, you were right, he's missed his yorker.' "

It was a good cricketing story, a rare thing in a media conference these days, and Broad deserved credit himself for sharing it with a wider audience. He thinks it has a deeper significance. "That confidence is what you want in a set up," he said. "We have a youngish batting line up which at times might not come off, but we have a three-week period where it would be lovely if it did.

"There had been question marks against us in these conditions and the Afghans had made a real statement against India. There were a few questions floating above our heads so for us to put in as powerful a performance is really pleasing."

Broad describes Bairstow as "a fantastic striker of spin." He measures it up, keeps it simple and belts it miles. Buttler's game can look more gauche, but his captain's expectations are just as high. "Jos hasn't needed to come in against spin in his short international career but I have never seen a guy hit a further ball in training. A slow languid swing and it goes miles. So I think they both go to the crease with confidence."

Buttler can score quickly even when he looks under duress. He attempted a reverse sweep against his first ball from Mohammad Nabi and was struck on the grille of the helmet, as ungainly an end it was possible to invent. Ah well, that's just how it goes, he seemed to conclude. Next ball, he was fortunate not to be stumped off a wide when Nabi outfoxed him and slipped one down the leg side. He was dropped third ball; it could have been a horrible nought.

Such niceties seem to wash over Buttler. It is his job; sometimes it gets messy. He possesses enough natural power to make light of the misconceived moments as long as he remains at the crease. When he fell lbw to the seam bowler, Izatullah Dawlatzai, he had made 15 from seven balls, three of which had thundered to the boundary.

As Broad said: "Every time we play India in England, we are expected to do well and every time they play in their conditions they are expected to do well against us. We are out of our comfort zones. But we have beaten Pakistan and Australia in warm-ups and it's important we continue that momentum." It is doubtful that either Bairstow or Buttler have worried about such niceties.

If England's approach goes to plan then Bairstow and Buttler might have a few short innings to play. It does not matter how much you remove overs from a game of cricket, a statistician will eventually prove that preservation of early wickets is crucial. England certainly take that view in T20.

"If you have a batsman in at the end you have a chance and that's what we hammer home to the guys," Broad said. "The statistics are quite clear that it is the team that loses the fewer wickets after eight overs that wins 80% of the games.

"Obviously you don't want to be 10 for 1, but it's much better to be 40 for 1 than 70 for 3. Then you can really go at the end. If you look at the likes of Bairstow and Buttler, they can really go in the last five."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marcio on September 24, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Unfortunateky a bit of happy-go-lucky swinging of bats during two closely fought practice games and a lopsided contest with a minnow doth not an act of valour make. It's when there is pressure that we see courage - or its absence. The game against India pretty much sums up what i was thinking when i read this article. You take a whole heap of young guys with little experience to SL, and... sooner or later you are going to get a disaster. The game had no bearing as far as the next step of the WC goes, but it can't do the morale of the side much good getting you bottom whipped like that against a bowling side that is considered one of the weakest of the top 8 teams.

  • Anil on September 23, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    Oh yeah, they were so fearless that they wound up the innings for 80 all out... I haven't seen such a fearless display in a very long time. Seam track bullies just don't have any clue again spin. It's high time the curators in england start preparing spin friendly tracks.

  • sam on September 23, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    With backyard sloggers like Luke Wright the best of what England have got it isn't too surprising to mistake the flash in the pan 'bravado' as fearlessness and things such. Too bad that,what works spectacularly against the minnows falls flat in the face when confronted with opposition slightly above themselves and there are many much better for Eng to get lucky every time. Any way enjoy the luck while it lasts for its going to run out soon.....

  • John on September 23, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    This England side is very young- only 2 players in the squad, and one currently in the team, over 27. Bairstow and Buttler, still both only 22, are the babies of the side and both will be much better players in the years to come. Anything they can contribute now is really a bonus.

  • Manikandan on September 23, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    England to win with out KP??? there is no way that could happen. come back Kevin!

  • Parthiban on September 23, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    Its funny how people make bold predictions. But I wonder what ever happens to them when they inevitably are wrong. It is too early to get carried away by England. India on the other hand are overrated and have been for a long time now. As pre-match conferences of the captains revealed England is about the team whereas India is all about a collection of individuals. Enough said.

  • david on September 23, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    captain m. of course they are not great they are boys, and hopefully they will do a mans job.

  • gurinder on September 23, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    india to thrash trash out of poms today

  • Sharon on September 23, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @Meanster you have short memeory regarding pitch. England won T20 World Cup in West Indies. That whole series was played on spinning dust bowl pitch. We enjoyed it immensely and had no difficulty thrashing Australia in the Final. Sub-continent team did not feature in final. the good result so far for England is becasue they are good side, not because of fluke pitch which would evidently be your theory. It is India that aren't great, not England. This current England side is better than the one which won T20 WC last time. Go figure.

  • Matthew on September 23, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    @randyOz Australia yes but South Africa? I like the saffers and am not denying they have an excellent side as they keep showing against us. But have they really had much more "success" than England and India? By "success" I assume you mean ICC tournaments, of which they have won exactly none, and important Test series wins which they, England and India have all had.

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