Broad faces practice dilemma

  • Last Updated: September 9 2012, 12:44 BST

England have travelled to Manchester knowing they must keep minds fresh if they are to bounce back from a second successive seven-wicket defeat against South Africa.

Stuart Broad: Facing a tricky situation

Captain Stuart Broad resisted the notion of compulsory nets for a squad who can ill afford another off-colour performance at Old Trafford as they gear up for the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown.

England repeated the failings of their NatWest Series defeat at Trent Bridge last week, when they again failed to post a competitive target at the Emirates Durham ICG on Saturday.

They therefore trail 1-0 in a hectic series of three Twenty20s, which will be concluded on Wednesday night in Birmingham - hours before they fly to Sri Lanka, on Thursday morning, to take on the world again.

A series of batsmen - Ravi Bopara, in particular, is worryingly out of form - failed to do themselves justice as England registered the third-lowest Twenty20 total in their history at Chester-le-Street.

But Broad is wary of insisting on more practice, in a situation where he senses mental refreshment might be most beneficial.

"It's a tricky time of year," he said.

"You don't want to be netting all the time, because we've had quite a long cricket season; you've got to actually manage your time well.

"Whether going to the nets and doing certain things is the best thing to do, we'll have a discussion about; or whether getting away and actually having a think about what we do (is better)."

Broad is not hiding from the truth about England's faulty batting in their last two attempts.

Bopara is simply way short of his best in recent times; but a succession of his team-mates got out to poor shots, or poor judgement.

Even so, the captain will leave it to individuals how best to turn things round.

"The boys have hit a lot of balls this summer," he said.

"Maybe this was a mental switch-on, to someone batting through and taking responsibility.

"Whether hitting more balls is a good option, we'll have a look."

Broad is not concerned about England's collective skills, even though they lost four wickets to South African spin in the North East- hardly a reassuring pointer to their prospects in the sub-continent where they will be presented with the same challenge, only in a more testing environment.

"We didn't play the spin especially well. But we've got good players of spin in there," he said.

"Morgs [Eoin Morgan] is a fantastic player of spin. We've seen him dominate it in the past - it just didn't come off for us here.

"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 it didn't work out for us, and we need to put that right in a very short turnaround."

Eight overs of Robin Peterson's slow left-arm and Johan Botha's off-spin was hardly a shock for the hosts.

"I don't think they surprised us," added the captain.

"We've played against both of them quite a lot in the last couple of years.

"I think it was quite a good wicket to bowl spin on, because the ball didn't really come on.

"The advantage they then had when batting was that they didn't have to take a risk against Swanny [Graeme Swann].

"For that reason, I think it was a pretty good toss to win. But whatever you do first, you have to do well - and we batted extremely poorly.

"That's something we'll have to improve. That's a given; we'll have to improve not only (at Old Trafford) but in the next month."

England could yet win this short series, of course, and head to Colombo in great heart.

For the moment, though, it is Broad who wears the frowns - while his opposite number AB de Villiers appears to have plenty to smile about.

After his top team in the International Cricket Council world rankings had beaten second-placed England with an over to spare, De Villiers had the freedom to start thinking about rotating the squad he will take to Sri Lanka.

"We have to prepare as best as possible for the World Cup, so we'll try a few combinations in the next few games," he said.

"The ideal situation would be to give every batter a bat and all the bowlers a bowl.

"It doesn't always happen that way. But I believe this squad is mature and experienced enough to know what they are capable of - and going into the World Cup, I think everyone will be ready, no matter what happens here.

"All the guys seem to be confident - and if we keep winning obviously, everyone feeds off that. That's the most important thing."

That is a luxury England do not have at present.