Healing Broad expects to wound Windies
Stuart Broad is confident England will carry no mental scars into their World Twenty20 Super Eights game with West Indies.
The captain himself is sporting a cut in the middle of his forehead, after a swimming-pool collision with Tim Bresnan and the Yorkshireman’s bulky watch at the team hotel.
But Broad is satisfied his will be the only wound, figurative or otherwise, worn by England tomorrow - despite their disappointing performance against spin in Sunday’s record 90-run defeat to India at Colombo.
He and his team-mates came through today’s practice session safely, as they got their first glimpse of new surroundings at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
It is there the champions will bid to get the defence of their title back on track, and erase unwanted memories of that unequal struggle against Harbhajan Singh three days ago.
West Indies have their own “trump card”, when it comes to slow bowlers, captain Darren Sammy today describing Harbhajan’s fellow off-spinner Sunil Narine as such.
Broad, however, retains faith in his batting team-mates - who have been prescribed words of encouragement rather than a technical overhaul since the team’s dismissal for 80 at the Premadasa Stadium.
“It’s all mental,” Broad said. “It is important to get back into the nets and start feeling like hitting the ball again.
“It is all a mental state of mind, getting back in a positive frame of mind and reminding (ourselves) that we are good players who have performed consistently.
“We have match-winners in our side, and it is certainly not one to worry or panic about.”
Broad is consoled, as he was in the immediate aftermath of his team’s weekend defeat, that it came in a match of little consequence.
“If you are going to have a blip, do it in the game that doesn’t matter,” he added. “Going into this game there is no feeling of there being nothing on this one.
“Against India, as much as we tried to get away from it, there was the sense that - whatever the result - it didn’t change what we did.
“It is important to get a good start in the Super Eights, because the games come thick and fast.”
If England do respond with a winning performance, it may well be interpreted as a triumph of man-management from Broad and team director Andy Flower.
“We just talked about our strengths - learn from the mistakes you make, but don’t dwell on them,” added the captain.
“The India game was a big disappointment for us, and it was losing the early wickets that really did for us. It is important we ‘reset’ for this next match.”
England retain eight of the squad who won this tournament in the Caribbean two years ago, and Broad takes comfort from the continuity - that he is surrounded by players who know what is required.
“It is something to remind us,” he said. “Winning ‘World Cups’ is about winning the important games.
“There is no point playing like a dream all the way through to the semi-final and losing that one, so it is about developing momentum.
“We were happy with the start we made but disappointed with the other day. But if you break it down it doesn’t really matter - it is all about now.
“It is about playing well in these three games and getting on a roll from here. We are ready for that.”
England will respect but not fear West Indies, for whom destructive opener Chris Gayle is merely one of several dangermen.
“We played against West Indies this summer and we know they are a dangerous side,” Broad added.
“They have had success in the Twenty20 format, and they have players who have done well in the IPL.”
Not least among those is Narine, but Broad points out England have not suddenly discovered in one experience against India that they will have to master spin - and bowl a fair bit of it themselves - here.
“Coming to Sri Lanka, we have not found out yesterday that people are going to bowl spin at us,” he said. “We sort of knew that, because that is the conditions we will face. It is important as individuals we counteract that.
“It’s looking like it might be an option to go with two spinners, like we did in the opening game.”
Sammy is happy to portray Narine as a major cause of concern for England - and to hint ominously at his team’s hitting potential on a relatively small playing area.
“England are the defending world champions. I don’t think they will allow the last game India to play on their minds,” he said.
“I think everyone who comes on to bowl has a big part to play, but Sunil is our trump card. He has done well for us, and we hope he’ll have a big impact on the English batting line-up.”
There is a theory that a well-struck ball flies further in the hill-country of Pallekele than by the sea - a suggestion which suits Sammy.
“Watching it on TV, it seems to travel ... I hope a few of the England bowlers will ‘travel’ as well,” he added.