Afghanistan v England, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 20, 2012

Broad shrugs off shocking past


Stuart Broad needs no reminding of the shock of a World Twenty20 defeat against a minor nation as he prepares to lead England against Afghanistan at the R Premadasa Stadium. He bowled the final over in the first Twenty20 international ever staged at Lord's three years ago and fell to his knees and held his hands to his face in despair as Netherlands won the game off the last ball.

It was the sort of over that must still be scarred in his memory. Netherlands needed seven to win and as they scrambled five from the first five balls, Broad missed two fleeting run-out chances and a return catch. With two needed from the final ball, Edgar Schiferli hacked the ball back, Broad collected in his follow through but his throw missed once more and Netherlands grabbed victory with the overthrow.

For more scarring, consider Broad's previous experience in World Twenty20. On a balmy night in Durban in 2007, Yuvraj Singh struck him for six sixes in an over. As ball after ball disappeared into the night sky, it invited concern so early in his career that, at 21, he would ever fully recover.

Now here he is, sharp and confident, captaining England in a major tournament. England's coach, Andy Flower, has identified in him the sort of attributes he thinks a T20 captain needs: intelligence, quick-wittedness, a willingness to act on instinct, adventure and aggression. Broad's early cricket experiences might have destroyed him but he had too much dog in him to let it happen.

He agreed with the suggestion that adventure is part of his make-up, an example perhaps of how much more aggressively cricket would be played if more bowlers were made captain. "I like to take wickets and see wickets and chances," he said, "and I think in T20 cricket you have to risk a boundary to take a wicket. As a bowler I think I am more wicket-based than some.

"If someone wants to try to hit a spinner over mid-on, with the ball turning away from the blade, there is a chance of taking a wicket. I think with the heavies - myself, Finny, Jade, Bres - it is a great shot for someone to stand and belt us over mid-off from a heavy length so maybe keeping mid-off up is an option."

As Broad captains England in a major tournament for the first time, it will be intriguing to observe him. The desire to succeed burns within. Alastair Cook, who has replaced Andrew Strass as Test and one-day captain, is an equable sort who would benefit from a passionate vice-captain, officially or unofficially, and Broad can advance his candidature over the coming weeks.

Afghanistan revealed enough against India to warn England that they are immensely dangerous. Warm-up wins against Australia and Pakistan will count for nothing when Shapoor Zadran is flinging down his fast left-arm at close to 95mph or Mohammad Shahzad is unveiling his Dhoni-style helicopter shot.

"It's all about winning," he said. "It is a proud moment to lead England out any time you do and on a world stage it gives it an extra oomph as well but it will be down there with the biggest lows if we don't win.

"Any international you have to be on top of your game. Look at the times we haven't been. Ireland took us down in a 50-over game and the Netherlands took us down as well. The shorter the game the more dangerous these teams are and Afghanistan aren't going to hold back with the bat, put it that way. It will be important we keep our cool."

"In T20 cricket what you did in January is pretty irrelevant form-wise, let alone what you did two years ago. The game evolves so quickly. It's all about who turns up for the three weeks of the tournament"
Stuart Broad

Broad talking of the need for people to keep their cool has a certain irony to it, but he has matured since those early days when everybody was on the lookout for the merest hint of petulance. A reputation for stroppiness is barely half the story; he has the ability to be charming and polite. As a cricketer, his batting has not developed and at times his bowling this summer was disturbingly down on pace, but he has shown a capacity to learn and, as his figures reveal , his ability to lift his game at crucial stages is undeniable.

As England's T20 captain, he also knows in every media conference he fulfils it will only be a matter of time before he is asked what he thinks of Kevin Pietersen (about two seconds on this occasion, which is par for the course).

It was a neat exchange.

Questioner: "What have you made of Kevin on the telly?"

Broad: "I've got this Formula One game at the minute. I'm a bit addicted to it, so I've not seen anything."

At last, against Afghanistan on Friday night, England will have reached the point where the situation is reversed: Pietersen, shunned by England, is to his great chagrin the TV pundit; Broad, his computer game safely packed away for a while, is the captain who must plan without him. The more appropriate question from now on is what Kevin Pietersen thinks of Stuart Broad.

Broad steeled himself to watch Afghanistan lose to India on the TV and, considering his history, there were enough times when Afghanistan came close to an upset that he must have been reaching out insecurely for his F1 game long before the end of the game.

England are in Sri Lanka as defending champions and ranked No. 1 in T20 cricket yet few people confidently predict that they can win the tournament, especially in the absence of You Know Who. Morale plays a high part in T20 and, as Jimmy Eat World once sung, Broad's young team are not about to life their live wondering; they are on their feet, on the floor and good to go.

"I don't think being defending champions puts added pressure on us," Broad said. "In T20 cricket what you did in January is pretty irrelevant form-wise, let alone what you did two years ago. The game evolves so quickly. It's all about which team turns up for the three weeks the tournament is on. It's very hard to pick a winner, a favourite. It's all about who turns up on that day. There are some exciting, strong teams around.

"I'll be captain for a month and it's brilliant. You get to know your players a lot better and get to see everything in a lot more detail. That's actually given me extra excitement because before this I didn't know loads about Jos Buttler or Danny Briggs. They come in and do things that excite you as a player. The important thing in a tournament is to have belief in your team-mates so to have a month together and see what guys do in training and games builds up that belief."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samuel on September 21, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    A Jimmy Eat World reference from a cricket journo? Top stuff Mr Hopps.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    no matter afg will win or not. but i know they will show their hard work on the field as they have done against india

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    i do no consider broad a proper cricketer so i do not take him seriously therefore i havent red the article except for the headline and that definetely should be said. a professional fast bowler bowling at 140km should never ever ever conseed 6 sixes in 1 over, do you even know what the possibility of thiis happening is. it has never happened at any level of cricket, not even the fast bowlers of the minnows have experinced something close to such a nightmere i wonder if he sleeps

  • gurinder on September 21, 2012, 13:52 GMT


  • John on September 21, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    @Ashwini Raju Kumar on (September 21 2012, 12:11 PM GMT), I don't really see how getting taken in an over reflects one way or the other on someone's ability to captain a side. There have been lots of people saying that Broad isn't fit to captain but I haven't seen anyone yet point to anything that has happened since he became captain to suggest that he's not doing a good job. Some have called him a cry-baby or the like but any behaviour that would suggest that to be the case happened years ago. If anyone has anything relevant to say about Broad's ability to captain the side right now then I'd love to hear it but I'm yet to hear anything of the sort. You'd think that if he really wasn't fit that someone could come up with something, wouldn't you?

  • Jon on September 21, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    So because he got hit for six sixes in an over in the meaningless format he should quit the game? By the way how did Yuvi fare in the series in England. Or maybe we are not allowed to talk about that. And for all those saying Swann is rubbish etc.. just look at the stats ( don't need any more justification). At the end of the day it will happen in the near distant future that one of the trashy Indian bowlers will go the distance.

  • Kalyan on September 21, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    Afghanistan is already better than Bangladesh in my opinion.

  • Mohit on September 21, 2012, 12:32 GMT

    People are reading too much into Afghanistan batting against India. The reasons 1) Most of the players were hitting aerial shots and taking chances. The Indian fast bowling is not so great so they got away with many lucky strokes. England bowlers are better and it wont be as easy 2) Afghanistan is suspect to short bowling so expect at least 20 short bouncers. At least 2-3 wickets will go on these bouncers. If not 20 balls will be not scored on.That's a lot in T20. 3) England are current T20 World champs for a reason and that is they know tricks of the game well enough than Afghanistan .Obviously they wont loose to a minnow. If in past they have lost to a minnow ,tell me 1 country which has not lost to a minnow. No necessary history will repeat. Also England just recently bundled out Pakistan for 90 odd and in match against SA scored 100+ in 11 overs. Thats good form. Expecting miracles is fine but logically speaking India and England both will be in super 8 by end of day today.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    No matter what he says, those Six Sixes Yuvraj Singh hit off his bowling, he will never forget. Yuvraj singh destroyed & masscared him that night. Its a game. Nothing against Mr Broad, but he is not captain material.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    @RandyAlves where in this article does it say England think the six 6's was 'OK'?.....

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