Stuart Broad has insisted England can cope with the spin-friendly pitches they will face when defending their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka after a thumping loss to South Africa. England fell 0-1 behind in the three-match series after a seven-wicket defeat at Chester-le-Street on Saturday (September 8).
Put in, England could only manage 118 for 7 - their third lowest Twenty20 total. Craig Kieswetter, the opener, made 25 and the next best scores were identical, unbeaten scores of 18 by Broad, the England T20 captain, and Graeme Swann, batting at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively.
Of particular concern to England would have been the fact that several batsmen fell to poor shots against Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, the South African spinners.
Eoin Morgan played on heaving across the line against Botha and Jos Buttler, hailed as one of England's most promising batsmen, charged down the pitch before being bowled by Peterson.
"We didn't play the spin especially well today. But we've got good players of spin in there," said Broad. "Morgs (Morgan) is a fantastic player of spin. We've seen him dominate it in the past - it just didn't come off for us today. 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 today it didn't work out for us, and we need to put that right in a very short turnaround."
Broad added that the batsmen's failure to put runs on the board meant South Africa weren't under any pressure while facing Swann. "I think it was quite a good wicket to bowl spin on, because the ball didn't really come on," he said. "The advantage they then had when batting was that they didn't have to take a risk against Swanny. I think one thing weÂ have to be very aware of is you win games of Twenty20 cricket with numbers eight, nine, 10 and 11 not batting. So we have to take the responsibility of having a batsman there at the end."
Another worry for England has been the form of Ravi Bopara, whose run of low scores continued when he was out for six in all too familiar fashion, caught at slip pushing tentatively outside offstump against Dale Steyn.
In four innings during the preceding drawn one-day series, Bopara managed scores of 16, 0, 6 and 0, with his medium-pace bowling now his main trump card.
"Ravi's struggled the last couple of weeks, but he's working very hard on putting that right," said Broad, one of eight survivors from England's victorious 2010 squad heading to Sri Lanka. "We hope Ravi can get back to that, because he'll be an important player for us in Sri Lanka - not just with the bat, but I think his bowling will be useful on those sorts of wickets."
Steyn, whose wicket of Bopara was his only one in the match, nevertheless was declared the man of the match for his economical bowling, conceding only 13 runs in four overs, all bowled in one-over spells.
Steyn, explaining his approach to bowling in 'micro' spells, said: "I spoke to AB (AB de Villiers) briefly about how he wanted to use me. The thing is it's only six balls, you've got to be sure what lines and lengths you are going to bowl to, what fields you are going to bowl to and then you've just got to make sure you hit your straps.
"Just straight lines today was the key thing. It was quite difficult for batters to hit over the top," explained Steyn. "There weren't a lot of big hits that went for six or one-bounce four. I felt it was one of those wickets I summed up quite quickly with the ball. Straight away from my first over I got a feeling as to where I should bowl, spread the message and I think everybody else followed."
De Villiers, the South Africa captain, was expectedly happy with the win, and believed it boded well for the team's chances in the World T20.
"Definitely, it's very similar to what we are expecting," said de Villiers. "There was a little bit of turn, it was quite slowish. It was really good preparation. The bowlers had really clear plans and I'm proud of the way they came out. They made my job really easy out there."
South Africa rested the in-form Hashim Amla, who during the preceding Test and one-day series against England scored a mammoth combined 817 runs at 116.71, and de Villiers said they would try to give to match practice to as many members of their World Twenty20 squad as possible before heading to Sri Lanka.
"The ideal situation would be to give every batter a bat and all the bowlers a bowl," de Villiers said. "It doesn't always happen that way but I believe this squad is mature and experienced enough to know what they are capable of going into the World Cup. All the guys seem to be confident and if we keep winning, obviously everyone feeds off that and that's the most important thing."