Broad back in the groove
Twenty20 international captain Stuart Broad has bowled outdoors for the first time since having to leave England’s Test tour of India with a bruised heel six weeks ago.
Broad was unable to test his recovery outdoors until today, having been prevented by the snowy conditions at Heathrow from travelling back to India during England’s one-day international series.
The 26-year-old seamer was watched by limited-overs coach Ashley Giles and bowling coach David Saker as he got through five overs off his full run during the lunch interval at a domestic Plunket Shield match between Auckland and Central Districts on the second square at Eden Park.
An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman later confirmed Broad came through his exertions, wearing new specially-fitted boots, with no ill-effects.
Broad’s first opportunity for match practice on the tour of New Zealand will come in Monday’s first T20 warm-up fixture in Whangarei. Before then, he is expected to take part in the tourists’ first full practice session on Saturday.
For Giles, who will oversee three T20Is and as many ODIs versus New Zealand, the first task is to ensure he and Broad foster a mutual understanding.
“This is the first time working with Broady, and about half-a-dozen new players coming into this squad - plus new coaches - so the way this winter’s worked out, with two months on the road, has been really good,” he said.
“It gives me a good chance to look at a lot of players, in two forms of the game, and see where we are.”
On the back of this month’s 3-2 ODI loss in India, Giles is more familiar with most of his staff.
“I suppose I feel a little more comfortable,” he added. “It was obviously very new going in. I knew most of the guys through being a selector, and even playing with some of them...but being head coach is different, and India is a very different experience.”
One player present both in India and New Zealand is emerging batsman Joe Root.
The 22-year-old Yorkshireman had no international experience before his surprise inclusion for the Nagpur Test six weeks ago, yet has since added debuts in both T20I and ODI cricket and significantly impressed Giles with a series of resourceful innings.
“He’s just gone from strength to strength in our eyes,” said the coach.
“(He’s) someone who, I suppose, originally came on the scene as a Test specialist but is now involved in all three forms of the game. He’s very adaptable and works really hard.
“I think all of us would say he’s got a bright future. It’s early days yet - so let’s not heap too much pressure on him - but I think anyone who can go to India and play the way he did has got a lot going for him.”
Root will be aiming to use the New Zealand games, away and at home, to earn a place in England’s squad for June’s home Champions Trophy.
Although keeping Champions Trophy selection in mind, Giles is concentrating on more immediate matters.
“The Champions Trophy is obviously a major tournament for us, particularly being in England,” he said. “But before that we have Twenty20 here, and I’ve not coached any Twenty20 cricket with this side.
“So it’s important Broady and I get to know each other really well over this next period, and we plan towards both forms of the game.”
Like Broad, Giles has a healthy respect for England’s next opponents who are set to include the likes of Brendon McCullum and the returning Ross Taylor.
“We’re looking forward to [playing] New Zealand,” he added. “We’ve had a great time in India - shame not to win that one-day series - but we’re ready for the challenge here.
“Expectation is always there...but we’re not silly. This (New Zealand) side will be difficult to beat on their home turf.
“It will be tough. Any side that goes to South Africa and beats them in one-day cricket is going to be tough in any (limited-overs) format.”