London: England Test captain Alastair Cook was heartened to see Stuart Broad show something like his best form after the pace-bowling allrounder took a hat-trick on Tuesday.
Broad, England's Twenty20 skipper, struck as his side enjoyed a convincing 46-run win over a New Zealand XI in their first match of a tour where Cook will take charge for the subsequent one-day and Test series against the Black Caps.
Injuries cut short Broad's tour of India but he showed no signs of fitness problems on Tuesday and Cook, who is currently in Britain, was delighted ahead of a packed programme of international cricket, including away and home series against New Zealand before England defend the Ashes against visitors Australia.
"He's a very important player for us," Cook told Sky Sports News. "It was great for me to see him back playing," the opening batsman added.
"He had a tough tour of India where it was just a case of trying to get him on the park, he had a few niggles and was trying to play through niggles, but it's great that he's now fit and leading the Twenty20 side out in New Zealand.
"He needs a few overs under his belt but once he gets them he'll be ready for the T20s, the one-dayers and the Tests to come afterwards.
"He's a massive player for us, he's delivered in big matches for us and before such a big summer and winter coming up, we need all our players fit and available for that."
Somerset rising star Jos Buttler struck his maiden England fifty on Tuesday, off just 21 balls, and with fellow batsman Joe Root is one of a crop of younger players looking to make a name for themselves on the international stage.
"Joe has had a great rise, playing in all three formats, and the way he has handled himself in the Test match in Nagpur, playing under great pressure, and in the one-dayers against India, he looks the real deal at international level," said Cook.
"Jos has come in and, as we've seen him doing for Somerset at the end he's a very destructive hitter.
"That's translated into the international game now and it's great to see English cricket producing these players and seeing them come into the team."
England will play another warm-up against the New Zealand XI, also at Whangarei, on Wednesday before the opening clash of a three-match T20 international series in Auckland on Saturday.