I don’t like the word defending – Jos Buttler wants England to attack
Jos Buttler wants his England side to throw off the tag of ‘defending’ champions at the World Cup, insisting attack is the only thing on their mind in India.
Buttler remains fiercely proud of the 2019 triumph but has made it clear that the four-year-old title carries little weight once the tournament gets under way on Thursday, when England take on New Zealand in a repeat of the previous final.
The attachment to the trophy-winning side is clear – with eight of that squad on duty once again here and a ninth, Jofra Archer, in tow as a travelling reserve – but the captain is eager to draw a clear line under the past.
And that starts with banishing unhelpful terminology.
“I don’t see us as defending champions. We’re not defending anything. I want us to attack so I don’t like the word defending,” he said.
“It may be a motivation for certain teams when they’ve been in that position, but for us it’s irrelevant. It certainly is for me.
“It’s fantastic to be reigning champions and I won’t say we’ve left that behind completely because it’s a nice place to be, but you’ve given that trophy back now.
“It’s done. It’s about trying to create something new. We must be hungry to do it again and try to be focused on something different.
“I think the hunger is there. For most professional sports people, there’s always a want for more, there’s always a desire for more, a hunger for more.
“We wouldn’t be here if we were content with what we’ve done and you’re always excited for the new challenge.”
Buttler was the man who applied the finishing touch that secured England’s first World Cup at Lord’s, completing the run out that separated the two teams on the now defunct boundary countback rule, before taking over as captain for last year’s T20 success in Australia.
Having unified both white-ball crowns, the next seven weeks offer an opportunity to make it three global trophies in the space of four years.
That would be the kind of legacy to put England’s golden generation up with the very best there has been and Buttler is happy to be held to such high standards.
“We’re all dreamers and we all want to be able to say those things,” he said.
“It’s a nice place to be as an English sports team that fans expect you to do well and we’ll try our best for the fans back home and those that make it out here.
“I think the biggest thing is we know we are a team who like being in that position of having expectations on us.
“It’s a great place to be, I’d rather be there than a non-fancied side that nobody thinks has a chance.
“We’ve got some of the best players in the world in our team – that gives us a great chance.”
How much further the current team can take their story is open to debate. There are 11 thirtysomethings in the current squad of 15, including five who will be 34 by the end of the month.
A raft of retirements at the end of the World Cup would hardly be a huge surprise ahead of a new four-year cycle.
“We know we are an older squad than some and that should be a feather in everyone’s cap because of how professional we are to be playing to the standard we are at this age,” Buttler said.
“Age is not the defining factor – and we don’t need to add pressure by saying this is the last one – but I think it’s quite obvious with a few people being where they are at in their careers and the next ODI World Cup being four years away.
“But we’ll do our thing, we always try and enjoy the pleasure of playing for England. It’s a team that’s been together a long time and there’s some great friendships there and this World Cup is part of that story.
“We’ll try and make more great memories and cherish every moment as team-mates, friends and colleagues.”
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