England's T20 batting line-up 'scary' - Broad
Stuart Broad has called England's Twenty20 batting line-up "scary" and is confident that the team still has the belief to take something from the woeful tour of Australia.
Broad is England's T20 captain and is now beginning a rare period where he will be leading the side for a concentrated period of time, beginning with the three matches in Australia followed by the tour of West Indies (where he is also likely to captain the short ODI series) followed by the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
England so far have a solitary international victory - the one-day win in Perth last week - to show for the trek around Australia although they should have won in Adelaide two days ago only for a late collapse to throw the game away.
There have been more changes of personnel for the T20 format with Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Luke Wright and Jade Dernbach taking on their specialist short-form roles and it's the first three of those names who Broad believes give England an enviable batting order.
"We've got some unbelievable strikers in our side," Broad said. "If we can lay a platform with the likes of Lumb, Hales, Wright - and see how they strike a ball - then you've got Morgan and Buttler coming in. It's a pretty scary batting line up. I'd imagine the three games are going to be pretty exciting to watch and hopefully we can let our skills to do the talking because, if we do, I think there'll be some high scores."
England will be fielding a side much closer to their first-choice T20 outfit than Australia for these three matches. The home side will resemble more an Australia A line-up, which has been further hit by the withdrawal of James Faulkner due to injury.
England are also helped by the fact that three of the new faces - Hales, Lumb and Wright - have been playing in the Big Bash League over the last six weeks so are well in-tune with the format. Only Dernbach, the second-leading wicket-taker in T20 internationals last year with 13 scalps from seven matches, is coming in reasonably cold although he has been travelling with the one-day squad for the last two weeks as preparation.
"Jade's the only one who's not played a lot of cricket but all the guys have been moving and playing so that's really good," Broad said. "And there's a confidence as well; Morgan's been scoring runs, Buttler's been scoring runs and Wright's probably been one of the standout players in the Big Bash. There's a lot of confidence going into this series, and we know T20's a big confidence game. If you believe you can hit the ball over the ropes then generally you do.
"I'm really excited to captain this group of players because they are a group of players that always want to improve and I think you need that in international cricket. But also a group of players who are not shy and are not scared to take the brave options."
One player who has not featured since the Ashes, but whose name continues to dominate debate about England's future, is Kevin Pietersen. Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach, previously called him a "million-pound asset" in the Twenty20 format and Pietersen's immediate future will be clearer a few days after his T20 series when the squads for the Caribbean and World T20 are named, but meanwhile Broad would not be drawn into discussing him.
"I think you can see from my position it would be hard to comment on that with the team I've got in that changing room with a T20 coming tomorrow to win here," he said. "The focus is purely on what we do in Australia and once we've got these three games, and hopefully a series win, under our belt we can focus on planning more on the World Twenty20."
One issue, though, that Broad was happy to talk about was the crowd reaction he has received during the tour of Australia. Before the trip, Darren Lehmann called on the local supporters to send Broad home crying, then the Courier Mail refused to use his name ahead of the first Test in Brisbane and he has been booed throughout although with a little less feeling of late.
"It's actually a bit disappointing now - it's getting less and less," Broad said. "You have to really listen for them now. In Brisbane I thought if it continued like that I wouldn't have any ear drums left. To be fair it's been quite good fun; I've enjoyed it and enjoyed the banter with the crowd. It's not been frightful general, abuse. I feel like I've embraced it okay, it's not really affected my performance particularly, I don't think. And there are not many people in the world who can say they've been called a "W" word by 40,000 people. So, I've got that one."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo