Broad steps up the pace
Stuart Broad is already planning for his next leadership assignment and beyond after celebrating a first win as England Twenty20 captain.
Broad suffered an ignominious start to his reign with a nine-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka at Bristol in June, but last night’s victory over India represented a commendable feat for a youthful side led by an inexperienced skipper.
They survived a late wobble to chase 166 and win by six wickets under the floodlights at Old Trafford, denting the enthusiasm of a sizeable – and typically voluble – Indian contingent in a sell-out 19,500 crowd.
Broad is in the curious position of having to hand over the reins, after a solitary match in charge, to one-day captain Alastair Cook for the NatWest Series starting on Saturday, although this time he has one month rather than two to wait before England return to T20 action against West Indies on September 23 and 25.
“It's something that you learn all the time,” Broad said of leading the side. “The best way is to learn on the job.
“With the Twenty20s being quite sparse throughout the summer, it is quite difficult to get momentum with that. It is important to take everything you can out of each opportunity you get.
“I’m looking forward to those Twenty20s at the end of this month because it gives us a four-five-day period where we can work on things to take the team forward.”
If Broad took any great personal satisfaction from his maiden win in charge, he kept it well hidden as he looked forward to the development of a team that are already preparing to defend their World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka at the end of 2012.
“It's a stepping stone to where we want to go,” insisted Broad. “We've got two Twenty20s against West Indies coming up which will lead into going to India (later this year).
“It was good to take some positives out of it; we had some guys who performed under the pressure of it. It was a very tight game, which is good to play in – that’s what you'll get in World Cup games.”
England triumphed with three balls to spare yesterday, but only after Jade Dernbach’s 4-22 – the joint best figures by an England bowler in T20 internationals – had helped dismiss India for 165, and Eoin Morgan had hastened England’s chase with a rapid 49 off 27 balls.
Broad’s two wickets came at a cost of 37 runs. He was among those treated harshly by opener Ajinkya Rahane, who marked his India debut with a sparkling 61 off 39 deliveries before the tourists, from the strength of 104 for one, suffered the first of two worryingly rapid collapses.
“We didn’t start as well as we would have liked – certainly in the first 10 overs we got it wrong,” admitted Broad.
“The batsmen came out with an intent so there wasn't any margin for error. We probably didn’t hit our lengths and we gave away too many four balls.
“We need to assess that but the way we clawed it back is a testament to the side. Jade getting his four-for was fantastic. He showed all of the skills that got him into this England side.
“He (Rahane) certainly got India off to a fantastic start. We were staring down a high score at one stage, which means for us to limit them to 165 on that wicket showed brilliant character and skill from our bowlers.”
Dernbach was responsible for four of the last five wickets to fall – for the addition of just seven runs in 13 balls – employing his slower balls to great effect and also showing his athleticism to run out Ravichandran Ashwin in his follow-through.
It was a performance made all the more impressive by the fact that this was only his second T20 international - and only his sixth limited-overs appearance in an England shirt.
“Each games poses its different challenges and India has a world-class batting line-up,” said the 25-year-old.
“It's just about adapting to the conditions you face. It's about changing and staying ahead of the game. As a bowler that’s the rule in limited-overs cricket.”
Much the same could be said of the captain, although you suspect Broad already knows that.