World Twenty20 2012 September 14, 2012

Broad takes reins for England defence

England's Twenty20 captain gave a practised response to questions about the absent Kevin Pietersen before offering praise for his young side

American presidents like to set the tone of their presidency in the first 100 days, but they have it lucky. In roughly the same timespan since Kevin Pietersen retired from England's one-day side and set in motion a chain of events that have reverberated ever since, Stuart Broad has had little chance to do anything except await his return to high office.

Now he has his chance. Broad, England's Twenty20 captain, arrives in Sri Lanka with his England team for World Twenty20 confident in the knowledge that he has left the KP affair, and the politics that surround it, to others. Now he can concentrate exclusively on the cricket. Or at least he thought he could until the words "Kevin Pietersen" were mentioned in the very first sentence of his very first question in his very first press conference. From that point, if only to avoid repetition, Pietersen questions were abruptly stilled.

There was simply no escape - not until the ECB's media officer decided enough was enough at any rate, which judging by this evidence at least was the time that somebody remarked meaningfully, as if we didn't know, that Pietersen was player of the tournament when England, against expectations, won World Twenty20 under Paul Collingwood's stewardship in the Caribbean two years ago.

Collingwood has since loyally tipped England to defend their title--"we would be a better team skill-wise with KP but would it be a happier team?" he asked - and Broad has got his responses off pat. If he cannot entirely stop the questions he can at least parrot the same answers.

"I think it was 2nd of June when KP retired from the one-day and Twenty20 format so we have had a bit of time to plan without him," Broad reminded everyone, adding that England could still field eight of the players who had won the tournament. It was actually May 31, but he can be forgiven a spot of jetlag so soon after England's flight touched down in Colombo. It probably also explained his assertion, quickly corrected, that their "only focus was on getting that flight to South Africa". Even now he is probably pacing the streets in an unrewarding search for biltong.

But back to the moral of Broad's story: an innings of 99 made at Trent Bridge by one of his Nottinghamshire team-mates. "Alex Hales came in for the game against the West Indies and got the highest score by an England player in this format," Broad said. "The 15 guys who are here are really excited to be here and represent England in a World Cup and that is what you want when you get on the plane."

Jos Buttler's 32 from ten balls against South Africa on a rain-affected night at Edgbaston has also been adopted as proof that England's less celebrated middle-order batsmen can succeed, even if the likes of Buttler himself, Jonny Bairstow and Craig Kieswetter are unproven on the subcontinent.

"Unproven is probably the right word," Broad conceded, "but that doesn't mean they are not good enough. The likes of Buttler, Bairstow and Kieswetter toured with the Lions here earlier this year and when we went to the Caribbean and won we had two debutants walk out and open the batting for us in Michael Lumb and Kieswetter.

"Experience is a strange thing in T20 cricket. If you have played Test cricket for the last few years you don't actually get to play a lot of Twenty20 cricket. The likes of Jos Buttler have played a lot more Twenty20 cricket than say Graeme Swann or myself."

The England perspective on T20 is a strange one. India come here with confidence bolstered from the annual emphasis on the IPL. The more successful England players become, the less they play T20 as their opportunities in the IPL are rare and they infrequently play in the domestic FLt20 tournament because it is submerged by England's international programme.

As for the captain, Broad has been in the job for 18 months. He finds his team top of the rankings even though he has never skippered them for more than a week at a time. No wonder he says that, although he is proud of England's No. 1 status, rankings don't mean a great deal. But if England must defend their title in Sri Lanka then September, which may be more favourable than some months for the quicks, is not a bad time to do it.

"This is a great opportunity to have a month in charge and devote my skills as a captain and see what the guys are like in a longer format," he said. He meant a shorter format. His part-time job has yet to give him worry lines, but the jetlag was clearly messing with his mind. It was time to go and have a lie down.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on September 17, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    @MattyP1979 on (September 16 2012, 20:42 PM GMT) I'd say Australia still have a chance and I'm not going to diss them just because some of their fans diss us - they did better vs SA away than we did at home the same vs SL and have trumped us in the test arena in the last year. They still have match winners with the bat such as Hussey,Warner and Watson. I have concerns such as Kieswetter getting bogged down and Broad's bowling but there have also been some positives such as Buttler's recent inns and Swann seems to be bowling beautifully and I think his form could be crucial.

  • Mathew on September 16, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    JG2704. I think Eng have a very good chance of defeding their title. Sure being hit an hope alot is down to luck, but Eng are one of the stronger teams for sure. Aus are not a major nation in this format (and soon any). 20/20 is where you breed youngsters into the bigger formats and since talent in OZ is waffer thin it is no wonder they are ranked below Irl. I suppose we will have to wait and see but should be a good 'torney'.

  • Dummy4 on September 16, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    Any team which gets beaten by Afghanistan is in trouble, if their second game gets washed out and have to share points! And, rains are around the corner.

  • John on September 16, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    @amitgarg78 on (September 15 2012, 17:47 PM GMT) I thought Broad was cleared of anything to do with the Twitter account. And even so , wasn't KP outed on the back of the texts he sent to SA players which has nothing to do with Broad or any other Eng player.

  • John on September 16, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    @Baundele on (September 16 2012, 05:43 AM GMT) Probably true - now Bopara is out - but he probably wouldn't have been when he was made captain. What I'd like to see from Broad is when bowling ,if others are going for less runs then him - even part timers - for Broad to let them bowl ahead of him , but then again I suppose as a bowler you always have that mentality that if you go for runs one over you want the opportunity to pull it back

  • John on September 16, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    I'd say this tournament is pretty open.SL and India would probably be favourites alongside SA. India and SL have not been as great at T20 as you'd think with the players they've got and with it being such a huge thing but to be fair both are big tournament teams. Will SA get it right this time or will they end up being the Holland (football)of the cricket world ?Then I think all the rest are pretty evenly matched.WI have a juicy outfit on paper and Narine may be as key as Gayle.NZ have some explosive hitters and will rely heavily on the nous of Vettori.Pak,I'd say will rely more on their bowling than batting. Australia look the weakest (on paper) of the major nations but you still have quality in Watson.Warner,Hussey etc and they are always there or thereabouts in the big tournaments.Re Eng it's highly unlikely we'll defend our crown.KP will be a big loss but on the plus side our bowling attack still does a good job and we can hope that Morgan,Luke and the 2 JBs fire wire with the bat

  • Dummy4 on September 16, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    game over for england beat T20 player out they deserve to be in london soon.

  • Baundule on September 16, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    The irony is, Broad is England's worst performer at the moment and he has been appointed the captain.

  • Randolph on September 16, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Broad in charge? Huge blow for England.

  • sam on September 16, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Let's see whether England qualify for semi-finals in the first place and then we can all talk about who's going to win it!

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