England will come up against Pakistan for the first time today since the acrimonious culmination of last summer’s spot-fixing crisis.
But Stuart Broad, an ever-present in the 3-2 one-day international series victory last September and whose career-best 169 came in the Test tainted by controversy at Lord’s, insists nothing will distract England in their final World Cup warm-up match.
Broad, whose five-wicket haul on Wednesday rescued England from a shock defeat against Canada in the first warm-up fixture of their sub-continental campaign, knows he and his team-mates simply cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball at Fatullah.
There was some encouragement but plenty of qualms too about their 16-run escape against Canada at the same venue.
Better will be required today, and more importantly once England’s tournament gets under way in earnest next week.
As for Pakistan, there was little cordial about relations between them and England last summer – notably when Jonathan Trott and Wahab Riaz had an altercation in the Lord’s nets before the penultimate match of the series.
No new friendships appear to have been forged in the meantime, even though the teams are sharing the same accommodation in Dhaka.
“We’ve not seen a huge amount of them in the hotel,” said Broad.
“We haven’t been going out for dinner with them.
“Obviously it was a tough summer for us last year – all England players will say the same.
“We enjoyed playing the cricket, but our wonderful summer of cricket was damaged.
“But you’ve got to move on. It’s international sport, and we’ve got a job to do.”
Broad missed England’s 6-1 ODI trouncing by Australia at the start of this year, and runs and wickets in his first match since injury in the Adelaide Test were very encouraging for him.
He knows nonetheless that collectively England need to re-establish a winning habit, quickly – and it will be no good citing the psychological complication of playing Pakistan as reason for defeat. Victory is required, via a much-improved performance.
“That’s our sole focus,” added Broad.
“We’re pretty selfish in the fact we want to get ourselves right for this World Cup, and we’ll use every opportunity we have to do that.
“We need to gel better as a team, both batting and bowling, from the Canada game – and against Pakistan will be a great opportunity to do that.
“We’re all excited about getting back on the field – whoever we play against – to better ourselves.”
Broad could hardly have asked for much more from himself, making handy runs down the order and then snuffing out an unexpected Canada counter-attack with the ball – despite being laid low by a stomach upset only a day beforehand.
“It was great to get back on the pitch – it’s been a long time coming, two months since I played my last game,” he said.
“I was obviously a bit nervous before the start, but it was great to take a few wickets.
“We weren’t overly happy with our performance, but there are positives we can take out of the game.
“I don’t think it ever got particularly nervous in the middle. I think we had the game under control throughout, after having them 28-5.
“To let them get over 200 was a little bit disappointing – but fair play to their No 7 (Rizwan Cheema), who came in and whacked it and played some fantastic shots.”
Broad and most of his World Cup team-mates know what it is like to win an International Cricket Council trophy, having helped to break England’s duck in last year’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies.
In order to follow up, Broad is hoping to borrow from that Caribbean template.
“When you’ve got the opportunity to come to a world tournament and win it, it’s something everyone’s very tuned into.
“Going into that Twenty20 in the Caribbean, no one outside the set-up believed we could win. But within the side, we had huge belief.
“We knew our roles very clearly as players, and I think when you know that it is a very powerful thing. It’s the same here.”
As against Canada here, in Guyana last spring England made a stuttering start.
Acknowledging that, Broad said: “What we can learn from that tournament is that we gained momentum throughout.
“We started pretty slowly – lost a rain-affected game to the West Indies, and didn’t perform that well against Ireland – but got through the group stages and played some amazing cricket after that.
“That’s one thing we have to bear in mind for this tournament, it’s quite long at six-and-a-half weeks.
“We have got a couple of points to prove over the last seven or eight games of our ODI form, and it’s important we start that now – because there is no time for slip-ups when we play the Netherlands on Tuesday.”
Teams for today’s ICC World Cup warm-up match between England and Pakistan at Fatullah (starting at (8.30am GMT)
England (from): AJ Strauss (captain), KP Pietersen, IJL Trott, IR Bell, PD Collingwood, MJ Prior (wkt), LJ Wright, MH Yardy, JC Tredwell, JM Anderson, SCJ Broad, A Shahzad, RS Bopara
Pakistan (from): S Afridi (captain), M Hafeez, M ul-Haq, A Shafiq, Y Khan, U Akmal, A Shehzad, K Akmal (wkt), A Razzaq, A Rehman, W Riaz, S Ajmal, U Gul, S Akhtar, J Khan
Umpires: B Oxenford (Aus) and B Doctrove (WI)
Third umpire: S Davis (Aus)
Match referee: R Madugalle (SL).