Broad backs England to shine in T20
Resurgent England will return to one of their world-beating disciplines tomorrow under a Twenty20 captain confident they have the potential to improve still further.
Stuart Broad takes over the reins from one-day international leader Alastair Cook for three Twenty20s against Pakistan
He has a hard act to follow with Cook’s impressive leadership in a 4-0 ODI whitewash being complemented by 323 runs at an average of 80.75.
Cook’s run of form has, in fact, seen him retained as cover - Ravi Bopara has a back injury, but was able to take full part in practice today - for a format in which the opener’s last of only four caps to date came back in 2009.
Broad is confident his team has many bases covered regardless of who plays and believes Cook would rise to the challenge if selected.
“I look through the squad, and it excites me,” said the 25-year-old.
“Of the guys who’ve come into the side in recent times, Jos Buttler’s won game after game for Somerset; (Jonny) Bairstow strikes the ball beautifully, as we’ve seen on the international stage; Jade Dernbach’s got a brilliant yorker and a great slower ball.
“We’ve got guys coming into the Twenty20 team and offering a huge amount."
He added: “It seems to be whatever you throw on his [Cook's] plate, whatever you challenge him with, he can adapt his game. You can see from his ODI form that he’s developed scoring areas, shots, and he’s played some fantastic one-day innings for us.
“A lot of this game is a mental game, we all know that, and he’s obviously a very strong mental character and can adjust his game to any format."
Broad also brushed off suggestions that including Cook would undermine his own authority, insisting the duo, alongside Test skipper Andrew Strauss, dovetail and exchange ideas constantly.
“Straussy, Cooky and I work pretty closely on all formats of the game,” he said. “Just because Straussy doesn’t play in the ODI format doesn’t mean he has no say or opinion on it.
“It’s the same for Cooky in the Twenty20. The three of us work very closely with Andy Flower, and that will continue. We’ve worked closely as three captains, as we have done for nearly a year now, and that doesn’t change overnight.”
Along with deciding over Cook, England must ponder whether to keep his new ODI opening partner Kevin Pietersen at the top of the order.
The right-hander starred in the role at the end of the 50-over series, hitting back-to-back centuries to seal England’s emphatic success.
“Obviously KP showed some great form opening the batting in the one-day stuff. Back-to-back hundreds shows that,” said Broad. "He’s a confident batter at the moment, and a confident KP is good for England.”
Broad - back as captain after missing England’s last three Twenty20s because of a shoulder injury - also admitted he has been impressed with Nottinghamshire team-mate Samit Patel, who has been a limited-overs ever-present for England this winter.
“Samit has shown good form on this one-day tour, both with bat and ball,” he said. “It’s exciting going on to the field, knowing you have that trust in your guys to perform.
“That’s what it’s about - and as long as players know their roles, and what’s expected of them, they have enough talent to be able to produce that on the field.”
England's upcoming encounters in the game's shortest form take on even more importance given they are getting ready to defend their World T20 crown in Sri Lanka later this year.
Indeed, Broad's men have just seven matches prior to the warm-up games for the tournament, which starts in September.
“We need to make use of every game we have, because there aren’t that many leading to the ‘World Cup,’” he said.
“Obviously, with that being in the sub-continent, we need to really make use of these conditions here in Dubai - because we won’t have any sub-continent Twenty20 cricket until the warm-up games for the World Twenty20.
“It makes these games pretty important, from a learning perspective. But we’re not looking at these as warm-ups for the World Twenty20; we’re looking to win this series, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on.”