NOTTINGHAM: England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad is confident his side can mount a successful defence of their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka this year despite the absence of Kevin Pietersen.
Star batsman Pietersen, man of the tournament when England won the World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean two years ago, recently quit all limited overs internationals after officials refused his request to carry on playing Twenty20s while opting out of 50-over one-day games.
England play their first Twenty20 match since South Africa-born Pietersen's one-day retirement when they face the West Indies at Nottinghamshire seamer Broad's Trent Bridge home ground on Sunday.
“Kevin is a world-class Twenty20 player so of course it is disappointing that he is not with us, but it's a great opportunity for someone else to put their hand up and stake a claim for that spot,” said Broad, who will aim to celebrate his 26th birthday on Sunday with a victory.
England will now look to a group of inexperienced batsmen to cover the gap left by Pietersen's absence, with the likes of Alex Hales, Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Samit Patel having no more than eight Twenty20 international appearances.
Broad, who with 34 appearances is England's most capped Twenty20 player, added: “We've got an exciting group of players in that changing room and everyone is really excited about getting on that field and doing the job.”
Sunday's fixture will be one of just four Twenty20s England play before they head to Sri Lanka to begin the defence of their title in September.
“We have quite a short period of time and a short number of games until that World Cup so you want to make as much use of that as possible when we do get the opportunity,” said Broad.
Meanwhile Broad said he hoped batsman Eoin Morgan could return to his best form despite a lack of international cricket this season.
The former Ireland left-hander was dropped from England's Test side and had limited chances in the one-day series win over the West Indies due to the form of openers Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.
But Broad said there was every chance Morgan could star on Sunday: “Very much so. We've seen some amazing performances from Eoin in Twenty20 cricket and one-dayers for a long time.
“He's now probably our most experienced batsman in that set-up. Obviously we'll be looking to him to make big contributions and share his experiences with the guys in the squad.
“He's a key cog for us now in this England team and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do tomorrow.
“He's always played a more prominent role, he's up there as one of the best Twenty20 batsmen in the world.
“I think the role he has done for us over the past two years has been fantastic with his variety against the spin and his death hitting. He'll be looking to continue that on.”