Broad's universal approach to World T20
England’s attitude to playing Afghanistan in the opening game of their World Twenty20 defence is identical to facing any other side in the competition, according to captain Stuart Broad.
Afghanistan are one of two qualifiers in Sri Lanka, having done likewise to reach the previous tournament in 2010 when England won their first International Cricket Council title.
Then, Paul Collingwood’s team had to play Ireland in the initial group stage and snuck through with a no-result after an unfortunate Duckworth/Lewis defeat to hosts West Indies.
This time Broad and Co meet the so-called minnows first at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium where Afghanistan will be fighting to stay in the World T20 following a 23-run loss yesterday at the same venue.
They certainly made India work hard for victory yesterday, reaching 75 for two during the 12th over in pursuit of 160.
“They don’t have any fear, by the looks of it. They’ll play a few shots,” Broad said. “That’s something we’ll have to counteract as a bowling unit, not get fazed by that, not get panicked too much.
“We have to accept there might be a few nicks fly past the wicketkeeper, and a few smashes over extra-cover and ‘cow’. That’s part and parcel of the game. As a bowler, we know the most important thing - whether you get hit out of the park, or you bowl a dot ball - it’s all on the next ball.
“Whether you’re playing against Afghanistan, or the best team in the world, your principles don’t change.”
England are one of the last teams to begin the competition, having completed the shared NatWest International T20 series versus South Africa with victory last Wednesday at Edgbaston.
In Sri Lanka they have warmed up by beating Australia and Pakistan by nine and 15 runs respectively.
“That’s three on the bounce we’ve won now, and played some really good cricket as well,” Broad added.
“It’s important if you can build momentum throughout the tournament. We’ve started that really well, and we’ve got a really positive group here.”
“The 15 guys in the squad are excited to be here, up for the challenge - and that’s what you want coming into a tournament. I’ve seen a few games on the TV. That just builds your excitement.
“We’ve prepared really well, won both games over here - and both have been really good tests for us as well.
“In the first game against Australia, I thought we batted fantastically - maybe could have fielded and bowled a little bit better.
“Then against Pakistan, you’re not going to see a better fielding and bowling display than that - to defend 111.
“I’m really delighted. The morale in the camp is brilliant ... preparation has gone as well as we could have hoped.”
England’s squad contains seven players that did not feature in the Caribbean two and a half years ago, but Broad has every confidence in the party.
“We’ve not just got players who can ‘do a job’; we’ve got world-class match-winners in the side,” Broad said.
“Yes, we’ve got guys who haven’t played a lot of international cricket. But we’ve got eight of us who won the ‘World Cup’ two years ago - and players who can clear the ropes ... guys down to number nine who can do that. I think you need that in Twenty20 cricket.”
To challenge England, Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan knows his charges must improve on their fielding display against India.
“I have to point out that those who dropped catches are very good fielders,” he said. “I think the pressure factor came into it.”