CHESTER-LE-STREET: Stuart Broad insisted England could cope with the spin-friendly pitches they will face when defending their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka after a thumping loss to South Africa.
England fell 1-0 behind in a three-match 'warm-up' series for this month's World Twenty20 after a seven-wicket defeat by the Proteas at Chester-le-Street on Saturday. Sent into bat, England could only manage 118 for seven – their third lowest Twenty20 total.
Opener Craig Kieswetter made 25 and the next best scores were the 18 not outs of both Twenty20 captain Broad and fellow lower order batsman Graeme Swann.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn was named man-of-the-match for his one for 13 in four overs but the fact South Africa spinners Johan Botha and Robin Peterson shared four wickets between them, several the result of poor shots, would have concerned the England management.
Eoin Morgan played on heaving across the line against Botha and Jos Buttler, hailed as one of England's most promising batsmen, charged down the pitch before being bowled by left-armer Peterson.
“We didn't play the spin especially well today. But we've got good players of spin in there,” said Broad.
“'Morgs' is a fantastic player of spin. We've seen him dominate it in the past – it just didn't come off for us today.
“Jos Buttler in training hits the ball further than anyone.
“We want guys to have the freedom to go for that boundary option. You don't want to curb that enthusiasm too much.
“But obviously today it didn't work out for us, and we need to put that right in a very short turnaround,” Broad added ahead of Monday's second match of the series in Manchester.
“I think it was quite a good wicket to bowl spin on, because the ball didn't really come on. The advantage they (South Africa) then had when batting was that they didn't have to take a risk against Swanny.
“I think one thing we have to be very aware of is you win games of Twenty20 cricket with numbers eight, nine, 10 and 11 not batting. So we have to take the responsibility of having a batsman there at the end.”
England are heading to Sri Lanka without Kevin Pietersen, man of the tournament when they won the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean two years ago, as the star batsman's international exile continues following his banishment after sending “provocative texts” to South African players earlier in the season.
One man England had hoped could help make-up for Pietersen's absence was Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara.
But his run of low scores continued Saturday when he was out for six in all too familiar fashion, caught at slip pushing tentatively outside off stump against Steyn.
In four innings during the preceding drawn one-day series against the Proteas, Bopara managed scores of 16, nought, six and nought, with his medium-pace bowling now his main trump card.
“Ravi's struggled the last couple of weeks, but he's working very hard on putting that right,” said Broad, one of eight survivors from England's victorious 2010 squad heading to Sri Lanka.
“We hope Ravi can get back to that, because he'll be an important player for us in Sri Lanka – not just with the bat, but I think his bowling will be useful on those sorts of wickets.”