By Rob Barnett
Stuart Broad is “very confident” of facing New Zealand tomorrow in England’s World Twenty20 opener.
The paceman bowled two overs at good pace in Wednesday’s warm-up with India, having sat out Tuesday’s game versus West Indies and missed the last two Twenty20 internationals against the same opponents the week before.
Broad reflected his growing confidence of playing tomorrow, quickly correcting his initial response when asked how he rated his prospects.
"I'm pretty confident, no, very confident of playing a part on Saturday and in the rest of the tournament," he said.
"The knee has come up pretty well from the India game. That was quite a new position for me as a player, to have my first bowl and fitness test during a game.
"But it actually gave me a lot of confidence having had 12 balls in the middle, because we know how different it is bowling in nets.
"It has been a long winter for me personally, with the amount of overs I've bowled, and these 10 days have just freshened me up so I can really come firing into this World Cup."
Broad knows it must not just be him who is energised tomorrow, with victory in the first of four Group One games being vital to his sides’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Before then Sri Lanka and South Africa await, so defeat to the Black Caps would leave little margin for error with only the top two advancing.
"I think it's well documented that, as an England side, we tend not to start overly well. That's something that we've mentioned within the changing room, but it's a non-negotiable here,” he added.
"With the way the tournament's set up a lot of good teams are not going to make it to the semi-final, so you've got to put yourself up there as a front-runner to start with.
"We've played a lot against New Zealand in the past 14 months, we had a long spell over there and they came to us this summer, so we've got a lot of knowledge about their players but it will be about us as an England team adapting to the conditions here."
Tomorrow's match is an evening fixture, with damp conditions in prospect.
That may mean that seam bowling is more profitable than spin, even on a pitch likely favouring the latter style.
"It looks quite obvious dew is going to play a part, so we're practising with wet balls," said Broad.
"We're getting the spinners bowling with wet balls and fielding with wet balls. It's not something you do very often - I can't think I've ever done it.
"But it's something we have to take into consideration because if you go in with three spinners and they can't bowl you've stuffed yourself a bit."
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum will not underestimate England, despite their difficult winter.
"The tour of Australia was tough for England this winter, and the West Indies too, but in this form of the game things can turn so quickly," he said.
"You only need one or two players to grab the initiative for your team and get you in a winning position and all of a sudden you have confidence as a team.
"I'm sure that's what they will be talking about and it's a note of caution for us too. While they are probably short of form at the moment they can turn it around quickly too.
"We must make sure we are as good as we can be and not let chance come into it."