Jos Buttler challenges England to take their white-ball game to new levels
Jos Buttler believes England are equipped to cope with “big expectations” and insisted their bold brand of white-ball cricket will continue long after his reign as captain has ended.
Named successor to Eoin Morgan last week, Buttler is set for his first assignment with three Twenty20s in the space of four days against India, starting on Thursday evening at the Ageas Bowl.
A quest to unify the limited-overs World Cups in Australia in the autumn should sharpen England’s focus but Buttler has plenty of confidence in the current 50-over champions despite Morgan’s absence.
Morgan was the architect of England’s transformation from no-hopers to trailblazers and Buttler, so integral to their uptick in fortunes, sees no point in diverting from that wildly successful formula.
“There’s a really clear way we want to play our cricket and I think that will outlast me and everyone,” said Buttler.
“It will be much of the same and, if anything, can we take that to new levels? That’s what we’ll always be challenging ourselves on. A big part of the team is not to set boundaries and not to have limitations.
“There’s big expectations on the group now that that’s where we believe we’re good enough to be. Absolutely we deserve that through all the hard work we’ve put in.
“Winning tournaments isn’t just as simple as that (but) it’s going into them with the expectation of being able to compete and get to semi-finals and finals, that’s where we’re at as a team.”
While Buttler will resume his opening partnership with Jason Roy, Morgan’s international retirement creates a vacancy in the middle order, although his spot is expected to be taken by big-hitting Liam Livingstone.
Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali and Phil Salt could round out the top six, meaning the in-form Harry Brook misses out, but while the identity of the bowling line-up is harder to predict, Buttler accepted that rotation will be necessary, especially for the quicks with 12 fixtures in the space of 25 days this month.
“We’ll have to be smart in the way we manage that,” said Buttler. “We’ve got to look after our players and at the same time that will present opportunities.
“We want people to be able to have those opportunities when they’re in the best physical and mental state as well, not being tired, etc. because of the tough schedule.
“There’s an opportunity there for guys who have been in existing squads to potentially take that role or someone else coming in. It’s a great problem to have that there’s so much strength in depth.”
England claimed their fourth successive Test win earlier this week, making mincemeat of what should have been been a lofty 378-run target, which was chased down with seven wickets to spare against India.
An adventurous approach akin to what the white-ball side have been doing has been embraced by Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum following a poor run of results over the preceding 12 months.
While he has been blown away by what he has witnessed, Buttler, discarded following a poor Ashes series last winter, reiterated that his priority is not on a Test recall.
“It’s not a question that needs to be answered at the minute for me,” added Buttler, who is without Stokes and Jonny Bairstow for the T20 series because of their Test commitments.
“I’m very focused on this and there’s not many spaces available in that team, is there?
“They’re playing brilliantly well and it’s great to watch. Being made captain of this team in T20s and ODIs needs full focus and a lot of energy. That’s where all my focus is at the minute.”
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