COLOMBO: England captain Stuart Broad may have thought travelling to Sri Lanka for the Twenty 20 World Cup would offer respite from the Kevin Pietersen saga but it dominated his first news conference.
Pietersen has been frozen out of the England set-up since allegedly sending "provocative" text messages about his own team mates to players in the South Africa side last month.
Even at a distance of 9,000 km from home the controversy surrounding the 32-year-old batsman continues to stalk Broad and his players as they prepare to defend their world title.
The England skipper was bombarded with the words "Kevin Pietersen" as he faced his first question from the media on Friday and the topic is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
Broad tried to bat away the issue diplomatically, reminding reporters that England had started planning for life after Pietersen several months ago.
The South African-born batsman had announced his retirement from limited overs cricket earlier this year before making himself available again in August.
"I think it was the second of June when KP retired from the one-day and Twenty20 format so we have had a bit of time to plan without him," Broad said of the player who was named 'man of the tournament' when they won the Twenty20 World Cup two years ago.
"We've been planning for a while, and the 15 guys who are here are really excited to be here and have the opportunity to represent England in a 'World Cup'.
"That's what you want, and it's an extremely proud moment to lead those guys on to the field of play."
Broad is confident his squad, including eight of the triumphant 2010 team, will produce the kind of performances that will make the fans back home forget about the Pietersen affair.
"We have a bowling unit that can restrict the opposition well," all-rounder Broad said.
"We've got some talented players here, we've played some really good Twenty20 cricket over the past year, we've got match-winners in the side.
"We saw Jos Buttler completely change the game the other night in one over against South Africa at Edgbaston and that's the sort of thing you need in Twenty20 cricket.
"It's hugely encouraging coming here. We've got to adapt to the conditions very quickly. It's a great challenge for us all - we're hugely excited to be here.
"There are not many guys who have played in ICC World tournaments - they're amazing occasions, you have the best players in the world here.
"I think eight of us were involved in the World Cup win in 2010 and hopefully we can share that experience and learn quickly."
England begin their title defence in Colombo with Group C games against Afghanistan on Sept. 21 and India two days later.