Six thousand miles from home, the spectre of Kevin Pietersen continues to haunt England even on the most exalted of occasions.
Stuart Broad faced the press in Sri Lanka yesterday in the unprecedented role of England captain arriving to defend an international trophy as the No 1-ranked side. Inevitably, however, the focus was on the man who was not there – the very same person whose man-of-the-tournament performances propelled his side to glory in the ICC World Twenty20 two years ago in the West Indies.
Broad was more inclined to speak about the attributes of the players whose talents are at his disposal than worry about the absent Pietersen or whether the beleaguered batsman will be granted a return to the international game via the Test squad for India to be announced on Tuesday.
"It's not something we need to focus on as players," said Broad. "It doesn't affect what we do on the field; whether you hit the ball for six, or nail your yorker or slower ball. That's what we're here to do. I've got full belief in the squad we've got here. I see the guys in training every day and it's frightening what they can do. Let's just hope we can put that on the world stage.
"We're going to focus on our warm-up game against Australia [on Monday], play that, review it and move on; if we focus on those things and don't let outside influences disrupt us."
England were given a glimpse on Wednesday of where the spark in their Pietersen-less side may come from when Somerset's Jos Buttler smashed South Africa left-armer Wayne Parnell out of Edgbaston in a series-levelling 28-run win. Buttler's 10-ball knock was encouraging enough for his captain to single him out as a player who could make a difference when the holders begin next Friday against Afghanistan.
"You've got to have the players in the changing room to win the World Cup, and I really believe we've got that," added Broad. "We saw Jos Buttler the other night completely change the game in an over – and that's the sort of thing you need in Twenty20 cricket."
Alastair Cook and Steven Finn were yesterday voted into the International Cricket Council's one-day international team of the year.