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Broad hungry for World Cup tilt

AHMEDABAD: Stuart Broad claims he is fresh and looking to add some energy to the England bowling attack for their World Cup assault. Broad missed the majority of the victorious Ashes series and the ODI mauling at the hands of Australia after being struck down by an abdominal injury. He returned from two months on the sidelines to spare England’s blushes with a five-wicket haul in the victory over Canada on Wednesday. He has admitted to pulling up a little stiff, but expects to be at full tilt for the World Cup opener with Netherlands on February 22.

“It is really good to be back,” Broad told Sky Sports News. “It was two months since I last played so I was a bit nervous before the start. But it was great to get back on the pitch and take a few wickets.”

England were far from impressive in beating Canada by 16 runs, but Broad feels there were positives to take from the game – notably assured batting from Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior and his own efforts with the ball. “We weren’t overly happy with the performance but there are positives we can take out of the game,” he said.

“I feel very fresh. Having not played for a long time it was all training-based, so I felt fit and excited to be back on the park and can bring some energy to the unit. I feel like I am bowling at a decent pace. The ball was going through nicely. “I pulled up a bit stiff this morning but hopefully I can recuperate for tomorrow and put in another strong performance [against Pakistan].

“Everybody is excited to be here and the energy levels are fantastic. It has been a long winter but it is something you have to crack on with and when you have an opportunity to play a world tournament, it is something everybody is tuned in to.”

While Shaun Tait is about to embark on his second World Cup, confident he made the right decision to stop playing first-class cricket two years ago. Tait played the last of his three Tests in January 2008, after which he took a break from the game to deal with physical and mental fatigue, and he has no plans to return to four-day cricket any time soon.

Although he has sometimes broken the 160kph mark in the shorter formats, and he is an especially dangerous weapon in short Twenty20 bursts, Tait knows his body can’t handle the rigours of the longer game. He also knows there will always be critics of his decision, but he is certain that giving up the four-day game was the best thing he could have done.

“People are probably disappointed and think I’m copping out and turning my back on my country, which is not the story at all,” Tait told reporters in Ahmedabad on Thursday. “The reason I’m not playing first-class cricket and not playing as much cricket as people maybe think I should be, is because of my body. I’d love to be able to play all forms of the game but it’s just not the case.

“You try to do the best you can to keep your body right and stay on the park but you can’t do anything about it. You read things and get a little bit cranky at times but who cares? It’s my career, not theirs. There’s going to be critics all the time and ‘back in our day we were tougher’ and all this sort of bollocks.

“There’s a lot of people out there who have different thoughts but they’re not in the inner circle and they don’t know the full story. When you’re injured, people get on your back. When you’re not performing well, people get on your back. You put a decent performance in and everyone takes an interest again.”

Tait’s slingy action is hard on his body, and elbow surgery at the start of this season seemed to have hurt his chances of making the World Cup squad. But the Australians were always keen to have Tait, who turns 28 next week, in their armoury alongside other fast men including Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger.

A key part of Australia’s triumph in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, when he was the equal second-leading wicket taker at the tournament with 23 at 20.30, Tait is yet to play an international on the subcontinent. He will need to find some speed from the expected slower conditions to give Australia hope of defending their title and winning a fourth consecutive World Cup.

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Raheel Hanif

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