Stuart Broad has challenged England’s next generation to fill the sizeable void left by the end of Kevin Pietersen’s international career.
The post-Pietersen era began in earnest yesterday as Broad faced the media before flying to the Caribbean for the three-week tour that will act as a warm-up for next month’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s treatment of the South Africa-born batsman was unsurprisingly high on the agenda but rather than Test captain Alastair Cook facing the music, England’s Twenty20 skipper stepped into the breach.
It was a thankless task but with a reference to “improving atmospheres” around the squad following the disastrous Ashes tour, Broad followed the party line immaculately.
“I was aware of discussions towards the end of the Australia tour but I was not deeply involved particularly,” he said. “It was a decision made by guys that have the English cricket team at their heart, and they want the team to improve.
“There are no egos involved in making huge decisions like this. It’s about improving results on the field and improving atmospheres off it.”
Broad added: “I have fond memories of KP from 2010 when he was the kingpin in helping us win that [Twenty20] World cup. But it’s time for the guys in that changing room to realise they can be match-winners and can step up now.”
The tour – which will comprise three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches – will also act as an audition for limited overs coach Ashley Giles’ ambitions of succeeding Andy Flower in the full-time role. Former batsman and Durham captain Paul Collingwood has also been drafted in to add his experience to the group,
Broad was one of the few England players to return from Australia with his reputation undiminished and he was understandably keen to draw a line beneath the events of the torrid last three months.
“When you’ve lost so many games, it hurts, so we’ve just got to get back to winning,” he said. “Twenty20 is about match-winners and taking the game by the scruff of the neck, so that’s the challenge for this young group now.
“There’s no doubt the players let Andy Flower down this winter, the coach can only do so much. We let the coaches down this winter and it’s up to the players to respond and perform on the field.”
* James Taylor hit an unbeaten double century for England Lions against Sri Lanka to press his claims for a senior call-up. The Nottinghamshire batsman – who played two Tests against South Africa in 2012 – ended on 242 not out in Dambulla, while fellow Test hopeful Sam Robson scored 142 in England’s 605 for 7 declared.