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England v South Africa: Stuart Broad may rue missing factors in quest to claim T20 top spot

England v South Africa: Stuart Broad may rue missing factors in quest to claim T20 top spot

Ill omen? Stuart Broad, the man in charge of England’s defence of their World Twenty20 title later this month, will not only be missing Kevin Pietersen when his team begin their final preparations on Saturday with the first of three 20-over internationals against South Africa.

Broad will also be missing a nail on the index finger of his bowling hand. It came off after an accident in fielding practice at the Riverside on Friday morning, and if South Africa raise an objection – as these tourists tend to subtly do – he won’t be able to bowl with any protection.
Broad will also miss Tim Bresnan, who has a recurrence of the right elbow injury that started to plague him last winter. As big a factor as any in England’s decline from number one in the Test rankings has been Bresnan’s loss of penetration, without compensation from his batting.
Fourthly, Broad will miss a left-arm pace bowler. Ryan Sidebottom was an essential ingredient in England winning the World Twenty 20 title in the West Indies in 2010, as he angled the ball across righthanders at the start and death, and he has never been replaced. The next lefthanded cabs off the rank, Reece Topley and Tymal Mills, both at Essex, are too young at 18 and 20.
Without a left-arm pace bowler England will find it that much harder to contain South Africa’s new opener, Peter Levi, who has scored the fastest T20 international century ever, off 45 balls against New Zealand. Levi doesn’t concern himself too with a leading left elbow and the offside, but mows massively to leg: hence the desirability of a latterday Sidebottom to angle across him.
Levi is due to take the place of Graeme Smith as Hashim Amla’s opening partner: Smith gone, at last! But Jacques Kallis is back. After going home to see Mark Boucher and a visit to the USA, his first, Kallis picked up on Friday in the Riverside nets and exuded the calmness and class that South Africa’s middle order lacked in the 2-2 one-day series.
South Africa are number one in the T20 rankings, yet England can topple them if they win this three-game series. And for that to happen Broad needs Graeme Swann – troubled by a dodgy right elbow, like Bresnan, but now returning – to reassert his superiority over uncultivated sloggers, especially lefthanded ones, even if taming Hashim Amla would be asking too much.
In an interesting double-header, starting at 10.15 am, England Women will try to extend their sequence of 17 T20 victories, but West Indies Women are introducing a new physicality into batting.


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