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Monday, December 14, 2009

Confident Stuart Broad: We will make our rusty rivals pay

Stuart Broad believes South Africa's lack of Test cricket this year gives England a golden chance to take the first match of the series.

Just 48 hours before the teams meet in the opening Test at Centurion, the all-rounder urged his team to go for the throat against a side, whose last taste of the five-day game was back in March.

Although South Africa beat Australia, it was a hollow victory as the Proteas lost the series 3-1. By contrast, England enjoyed a golden summer, comfortably seeing off the West Indies before reclaiming the Ashes in a 2-1 triumph.

After practice here today, Broad said: "This is a big opportunity for us. South Africa are a bit rusty, they haven't played Test cricket for a while and we are feeling good as a team. We have to make sure we go into the first day at Centurion and hit them hard. We're pretty confident we can."

England are still deliberating over whether to go on the attack and play just four bowlers but Broad believes the squad are versatile enough to cope with anything.

"The beauty of this England side is that we have that option," he said. "Obviously if we go in with six batters it will put pressure on the bowlers, but Jimmy Anderson and I have been opening the bowling for quite a while and we are ready to step up and take responsibility.

"What's good about this England team is that there are players ready to step up in all situations. We just have to make sure we get off to a good start on Wednesday. That's so important in a four-match series."

Broad also explained why he has decided to opt out of the Indian Premier League for another season.

Struggling with a shoulder injury earlier in the tour, he said: "It's been a tough schedule. We've got four Tests over the next five weeks and then there's the Bangladesh tour.

"You have to listen to your body. I'm not ruling out the IPL in the future but for now England comes first. It was always my boyhood dream to play for my country and that is my priority. I've done a lot of thinking and a lot of talking. I have to think about my body."

Anderson will also miss the IPL, citing his desire to be fresh for next winter's Ashes defence.

He said: "Taking on Australia will be a huge challenge and one that I am fully committed to.

“I want to be an integral part of the first England cricket team to retain the Ashes since 1972 and I'll be giving myself the best possible chance of doing that by not playing in the IPL
“The England cricket team have a busy schedule in 2010 and I'd like to be playing for England as much as possible.”

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior says that England should adopt a squad‑rotation policy so players avoid burn-out.

Prior, whose own position has been called into question, accepts changing the team gives a rival player a chance to impress but says England should learn from Australia.

Prior told the January issue of The Wisden Cricketer magazine: “Ultimately players are going to have to be rested. They have to be told — not asked. No one will say they want a break but there is nothing wrong in the England management saying: You are our No1 but we want you to rest to be fit for an important series.

“You don't want to give a rival half a chance to take your job but Australia think nothing of resting their players without placing the dropped player's future at risk. Ricky Ponting was in the form of his life when returning from a rest period after the Ashes.”

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