Stuart Broad backs England to avoid World T20 slip against Afghanistan

England begin the defence of their World Twenty20 crown against Afghanistan on Friday with their captain, Stuart Broad, insisting that the spirit in the camp is the "best" it has been for "years".

More than two years ago, England won their first major one-day competition when they defeated Australia in the T20 final at Barbados. Kevin Pietersen will remember the tournament fondly, scoring 248 runs in all and being named player of the series.

His absence from England's one-day and Test squads has dominated their buildup to their opening match in Colombo. Broad, however, says his side's preparation has been spot-on. "Morale is brilliant," he said. "We have all been buzzing around. 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.

"We've not just got players who can 'do a job'; we've got world-class match-winners in the side. 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 No9 who can do that. I think you need that in Twenty20 cricket."

Afghanistan will provide dangerous opponents at the R Premadasa Stadium. They gave India a scare or two before subsiding to a 23-run defeat on Tuesday but expect no excuses from Broad if England slip up. On the eve of the game he was upbeat about his team and the quality of their preparation. Victory will guarantee England a place in the next round, the Super Eights. Defeat, however unlikely, will mean that they will need to beat India on Sunday to have a chance of progressing.

Broad has not forgotten the feeling of confounding the world when England carried off the trophy in Barbados. "We found a method and stuck to it. We just scraped through the group matches and then we gained momentum".

This time England's preparation has been lengthier and more thorough; the squad have already been together for a fortnight. "It has been brilliant to get to know the players better. I didn't know much about Jos Buttler and Danny Briggs before but they do things that excite you. Time together builds up belief as do the victories against Australia and Pakistan [in England's warm-up matches]".

Broad has been a member of England teams who have come unstuck against outsiders – against Ireland in the last World Cup in Bengalaru and the Netherlands in the 2009 T20 at Lord's.

"The shorter the game, the more dangerous it is," he said. "We know that Afghanistan won't hold back with the bat. We have to accept the ball will fly around. But as long as we stick to our game and the basics we will be fine."

Powered by article was written by Vic Marks in Colombo, for The Guardian on Thursday 20th September 2012 21.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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