Thursday, November 26, 2009

Broad relishing England return

Stuart Broad is impatient to make up for lost time as he targets a winning return from injury for England against South Africa.

The fast bowler injured his shoulder fielding in the first match of England’s tour at Bloemfontein almost three weeks ago - and has since had to sit out two Twenty20s and a one-day international.

A drawn Twenty20 series was followed in his absence by England going 1-0 up with three to play in the ODIs, starting at Newlands on Friday.

For Broad, man of the match in England’s Ashes-clinching victory at the Brit Oval three months ago, it has been an aggravating false start to the winter.

But he was relieved to discover his shoulder problem was not long term.

“I’ve been bowling for three or four days now, feel fully fit - and I’m excited about potentially taking some wickets again.”

Right up there on Broad’s wish-list is to renew his pace-bowling partnership with James Anderson.

“We’ve missed a bit of cricket since the Ashes together,” he said.

“He’s been rested, and I’ve been rested on occasions. I’m looking forward to getting back in the middle with him. He’s been bowling well, as has the whole unit.”

One man who may yet have to wait a few more days to return to the team, however, is off-spinner Graeme Swann - who took part, along with Broad, in the middle practice but is not yet certain to be fit in time for the third ODI.

“I’m not sure about Swanny’s fitness. He’s having a bowl, testing it out,” Broad reported.

“We’d like him to be fit for the game. But we’ve got to make sure he’s right before we risk him.”

Without Swann and Broad, England kickstarted their campaign with an impressive seven-wicket win at Centurion last weekend - after a washout at The Wanderers - and Broad has seen much from emerging stars like Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan to be confident of further success.

Asked about the contributions made by some of the least experienced members of the touring party, Broad added: “I think that’s crucial with any sports team, and Eoin Morgan has really shone on this tour so far - and let’s hope that can continue for these last three games.

“Then there is Jonathan Trott. You sometimes forget how little international cricket he’s played, with the way he’s performed - a hundred on Ashes debut, and he’s been batting fantastically in these Twenty20s and one-dayers as well.

“It’s about players taking responsibility really. It’s important you don’t rely on certain individuals to make the runs and take the wickets. That’s why we’re in a good place as a team - because everyone is ’putting in’ on different days.

“We had some strong performances in the Champions Trophy when we came out here. We were disappointed to lose in the semi-final, because we’d played some good cricket till then.”

Standing in England’s way, among others, is South Africa’s batting all-rounder JP Duminy - and he made it no secret that he sees Broad as someone the hosts can try to target.

South Africa are chastened by their unexpectedly heavy defeat, and Duminy admitted: “I guess it was a bit of a shock. Leading up to the weekend, we didn’t expect to get such a beating."

He is confident of a telling response, though - and, on Broad, added: “With him not playing over the last couple of weeks, he will probably be a little low on confidence.

“It is definitely a tactic to think about, to go out to attack him.”

Broad, however, said: “I see that as a positive. They’re coming harder at you, and it gives you a better chance of finding the edge or taking wickets.

“You might have to accept you go for a few more runs. But if you’re bowling them out, you’re happy.”

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