Broad backs England to bounce back
Skipper Stuart Broad insists World Twenty20 champions England can still complete a successful defence of their title despite recent back-to-back defeats.
Captain Broad rued the 'unacceptable' loss of two wickets in the first over, which undermined England's attempt to chase 179 for five against West Indies in their first Super Eight match at Pallekele.
Even after Eoin Morgan, with 71 not out, and opener Alex Hales, with 68, had kept faint hope alive in a century stand, Broad's team fell 15 runs short of what they thought might be an achievable target.
England must surely, therefore, beat New Zealand back at the same venue tomorrow, if they are to retain realistic hopes of returning to Colombo next week for the knockout stages.
Broad, for one, is keeping the faith.
“We hope we’ve got four games left in this ‘World Cup’,” he said. “We back the guys up there (at the top of the order); we know they're all dangerous players.
“But losing wickets in the first over, especially, is not acceptable.”
England's latest setback followed a record defeat against India in their final Group A match last weekend - and was all the more dispiriting because they thought they had restricted the Windies well with the ball.
“It's disappointing,” added Broad. “At the halfway stage, we thought we’d done a good job - especially after the start they got, on an absolutely belting track.
“Batsmen would have wanted to roll it up, and take it with them everywhere. We thought we had them probably just below par, very chaseable.
“So to then lose two wickets like we did, in a disappointing manner, was frustrating - but I thought we rebuilt pretty well. It was always going to take some overs out of the game, because we couldn't afford to lose more.
“We still tried to keep wickets in hand, and explode in the last eight - but we didn't quite get there.”
It was the early losses of wickets that left England’s second top-scorer, Hales, frustrated too.
“It was always going to be tough chasing that total, once we were eight for two after three overs,” he said, rueing Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright’s ducks to consecutive balls in Ravi Rampaul’s first over.
“But I thought we fought back really well. I thought ’Morgs’ came in and played outstandingly well - and gave us half a chance towards the end.”
England felt, despite Johnson Charles’ 84 and Chris Gayle’s 58, they had given themselves an opportunity for a successful chase.
“At the halfway stage, we were very confident,” added Hales. “We thought it was a very good batting track, and we were in the game. But getting off to a start like that isn’t ideal - and from then on, we were always chasing the game.”
Morgan’s experience, and skill, gave Hales the belief that anything might be possible nonetheless.
“He kept me going out there; he was very cool,” said Hales. “He just said ‘enjoy it - it’s a great opportunity for us to try to see England over the line in a tough situation’.
“He was very good to bat with, and very calm. When he got going, at a strike rate of 200, I thought if he really clicks in the last few overs we might actually have a chance. But they executed their plans well at the end there.”
West Indies ended up bowling 15 overs of spin in their 20 - even more than seemed likely, despite indications of what was to come in their team selection.
Asked if England had expected quite so many overs of slow bowling, Hales said: “Maybe not quite that much. We knew that was going to be their gameplan having rested Fidel Edwards. So we figured we’d see a lot of spin.
“But it was a good batting track, and we felt at the halfway stage we could have had a shout. It didn’t quite happen.”
Charles’ score was his highest so far in any form of professional cricket; he could reflect on a job well done, and spoke too of how much batting with master blaster Gayle helped him.
“It was a great win,” he said. “We’re looking to win the tournament, and you can’t do that if you don’t win matches. If you’re batting with Chris Gayle and you know how quickly he can score, all you have to do is give him support.
“I back myself, and I know I have the ability. You could say it was kind of easy. That’s my highest score. But I’m looking to get better. I hope in the next match, I can get a hundred.”