London: Stuart Broad believes England's top-order batsmen hold the key to victory in their upcoming two-Test series with New Zealand. While it is a truism that pace bowling allrounder Broad and the rest of the England attack must take 20 wickets if they are to win any Test, big scores from the team's batsmen give bowlers runs to play with and put pressure on the opposition.
That was certainly the case during England's victorious Ashes tour of Australia in 2010/11 where they won 3-1 on the back of a trio of innings victories. But England's top order found life much harder going in New Zealand where the teams recently shared a three-match series 0-0.
England only escaped a shock series defeat thanks to a brilliant last-ditch unbeaten hundred from wicket-keeper Matt Prior that denied New Zealand victory by just one wicket in the third Test in Auckland.
"Looking back at New Zealand, okay our skills were not as good as they could have been but the fighting character to bat out two days to save matches is the sort of character you need in Test cricket," Broad said at Lord's on Tuesday.
"We are a team that are hard to beat even when we don't play to our best. That's something we can take very positively out of that series."
He added: "We've shown the character to save Test matches when we haven't been right but we need to show character to go and get 450 in the first innings.
"That's where the positivity comes out of Test matches and that's where you set up Test matches and not have to save them at the end."
The centrepiece of England's season will be the Ashes series against Australia starting in July but Broad insisted New Zealand were more than a side show.
"We have a huge summer ahead of us but nothing more important than the first hour here on Thursday," he said. "We can't look too far ahead, we have to focus on the opening bowlers or opening batters doing their job at 11 o'clock on Thursday.
"We are focused only on this week. I think it is very dangerous in a sporting environment to look too far ahead. We know we have a big job on our hands. New Zealand played fantastically well in New Zealand. We were a little bit under par, but we're very determined to put that right."