Broad revels in fledglings' efforts
Stuart Broad was delighted to see young players coming to the fore as England defeated West Indies by seven wickets in an action-packed NatWest International T20 at Trent Bridge.
Steven Finn was the pick of England’s attack with 2-22 from four overs as the tourists posted an imposing total of 172 for four after choosing to bat first.
It was another 23-year-old who stole the show, however, when Broad’s side replied with the bat.
Opener Alex Hales - one of four Nottinghamshire players featuring on his home ground - underpinned a successful run-chase, completed with two balls to spare, by contributing a terrific 99, the highest score by an England batsman in T20 cricket.
Hales shared 159 for the second wicket with Ravi Bopara and his skipper, who turned 26 today, was able to reflect on a hugely positive day.
“I think it’s a sign of a team developing when you give guys responsibility and they really grab their opportunities,” said Broad. “As a captain, that’s what you are looking for.
“We played some fantastic cricket. Steven Finn, particularly, with the new ball, being asked to bowl with slips and take wickets; I thought he did that fantastically well.
“Hales has come in and got 99. It was a fantastic knock on his home ground. It was faultless apart from him trying to nick one and get bowled.
“He was obviously heartbroken and the changing room was gutted. You saw 20,000 people in anguish as well, but it was a man-of-the-match performance and he’s won us the game today.”
Hales, bowled by Ravi Rampaul in the penultimate over with just four required, was understandably disappointed to have missed out on three figures, but could take plenty of heart from his and England’s display.
“I was gutted to get out just short of 100, but, at the same time, we managed to get a win,” he said. “I thought Ravi batted exceptionally well in the middle overs with me.
“Once it kicked in that I had got 99 in front of a home crowd I was thrilled, but gutted to have missed out on what was almost a regulation half-volley. If he (Rampaul) could have bowled it anywhere, I would have chosen there.
“It was very mixed emotions but now it has kicked in I’m thrilled. That has definitely been the highlight of my career so far.
“I’m very pleased that the selectors backed me for this game. Hopefully I’ve shown them what I can do at this level.”
Although Hales and Bopara ensured England eventually secured a relatively comfortable triumph, Broad admitted they had plenty of work to do at the halfway stage.
After Dwayne Smith had blasted his way to 70 with the aid of five sixes, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard shared 65 in a riotous fifth-wicket stand spanning 4.4 overs.
Broad added: “We maybe can improve the last six or seven overs but you also have to give some credit to West Indies, they’ve got some powerful hitters down there and they played smart cricket with the wind and targeted the small boundaries.
“At the halfway stage, I thought 170 was a bit above par at Trent Bridge, but on that wicket I thought it was very gettable and we just needed someone to bat through.
“Fortunately, we had two guys who managed to get themselves in and got us as close as they could to the score.
“I think on paper all of us in this room would have looked at their line-up with (Chris) Gayle, Smith, (Marlon) Samuels, Bravo and (Sunil) Narine - who were all successful in the IPL - and probably looked at them as favourites. So to have won the game in the manner we did was hugely pleasing.”
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy cut a dejected figure at the end of a disappointing tour for his team.
Following 2-0 defeats in the Investec Tests and NatWest Series, today’s result ensured the Windies will leave England without an international victory to their name.
“We have just been dominated by the number-one team in the world in all formats of the game,” Sammy reasoned.
“I think looking at the squad we have for the one-day and T20 series, on paper we had a really strong team, but you need to go out and string together consistently good performances out there in the middle and that’s what England have done throughout the series and we haven’t.
“We have got to be consistently good in all three departments: batting, bowling and fielding. We are doing some good stuff but we are not doing it consistently for long enough.”