Broad confident of England success
Stuart Broad has backed England to come good at the right time when they begin their World Cup campaign next week.
The paceman returned to international action in the narrow 16-run win over minnows Canada after missing England’s 6-1 drubbing in the Commonwealth Bank series against Australia with an abdominal muscle injury.
He claimed an impressive 5-37 on his comeback, but the performance from the rest of his team was far from polished.
England posted a total of 243 on a slow wicket thanks to so some fine hitting from Matt Prior, who top-scored with 78 batting at number six.
Despite reducing Canada to 28 for five, the big-hitting Rizwan Cheema struck 93 from 71 balls to give his side a chance of an unlikely triumph before Broad eventually removed him and, finally, Khurram Chohan to seal a hard-fought victory.
It was hardly ideal preparation for England as they head into their opening match against the Netherlands in Nagpur on Tuesday.
But for Broad, his team’s experience on the world stage will be invaluable, and the lessons learned from the success in the World Twenty20 in the West Indies last year will stand England in good stead when it comes to the tournament proper.
He said: “Going into that Twenty20 in the Caribbean, no-one outside the set-up believed we could win. But within the side, we had huge belief.
“We knew our roles very clearly as players, and I think when you know that it is a very powerful thing.
“It’s the same here. When you’ve got the opportunity to come to a world tournament and win it, it’s something everyone’s very tuned into."
As against Canada here, in Guyana last spring England made a stuttering start.
Acknowledging that, Broad said: “What we can learn from that tournament is that we gained momentum throughout.
“We started pretty slowly - lost a rain-affected game to the West Indies, and didn’t perform that well against Ireland - but got through the group stages and played some amazing cricket after that.
“That’s one thing we have to bear in mind for this tournament, quite long at six and a half weeks.
“We have got a couple of points to prove over the last seven or eight games of our ODI form, and it’s important we start that tomorrow because there is no time for slip-ups when we play the Netherlands on Tuesday.”
As well as wickets, a rapid 22 with the bat gave Broad cause to feel particularly bullish.
He could hardly have asked for much more from himself, making handy runs down the order and then snuffing out an unexpected Canada counter-attack with the ball - despite being laid low by a stomach upset only a day beforehand.
“It was great to get back on the pitch. It hass been a long time coming - two months since I played my last game,” he said. “I was obviously a bit nervous before the start, but it was great to take a few wickets.
“We weren’t overly happy with our performance, but there are positives we can take out of the game.
“I don’t think it ever got particularly nervous in the middle. I think we had the game under control throughout, after having them 28 for five.
“To let them get over 200 was a little bit disappointing - but fair play to their number seven [Cheema], who came in and whacked it and played some fantastic shots.”
England’s final warm-up game against Pakistan tomorrow takes on added significance as it is their first meeting between the sides since last summer's spot-fixing scandal.
But for Broad, the quirk of that fixture cannot be allowed to stand in the way of much needed preparation, something he says is the team’s “sole focus” as they try to re-establish a collective winning habit, quickly.
He said: “We’re pretty selfish in the fact we want to get ourselves right for this World Cup, and we’ll use every opportunity we have to do that.
“We need to gel better as a team, both batting and bowling, from the Canada game - and tomorrow will be a great opportunity to do that.
“We’re all excited about getting back on the field - whoever we play against - to better ourselves.”