Under Buttler, England extend their white-ball legacy
This T20 World Cup win once again underlines England’s innate ability to both enjoy and thrive in this format, something most teams are unable to do right now.
When Eoin Morgan retired in hurried fashion after struggling to score against Netherlands in June, Jos Buttler was his natural successor but it was a tricky transition for England. Half their first 17 white-ball games after the appointment were lost and there suddenly seemed a void with the leadership and their overall game. But most of that would be dispelled in the way England bounced back to notch clean and comprehensive victories against India and now Pakistan.
Serious doubts were raised over their batting approach not too long ago. Buttler thrived on a method where he was focusing on playing the anchor, starting slower than usual before rapidly compensating towards the final overs. It was risky but it was also an approach heavily offset by other batters’ fearless scoring attitude, proudly showing off altogether that England could bat as deep as No 8 on some days. This T20 World Cup win once again underlines England’s innate ability to both enjoy and thrive in this format, something most teams are unable to do right now.
“I knew there would be some teething problem,” England coach Matthew Mott said after England’s win on Sunday. “When you lose a strong leader like Morgan who has been around for a long time, it was going to take time to build a team, but I always had faith about great depth in our playing group.
“We had some adaptable players and even when we weren’t winning there, I could see a real love for each other in that group…I always knew the results would turn around if we stayed the course and didn’t panic.”
The ODI World Cup in 2019, the T20 World Cup now—England have really come a far way after losing to Ireland at the MCG a few weeks ago. “I think since the Ireland game the way we've sort of shown great character, must-win games every point from then on, I think we've played our best cricket, and we've just got better and better,” said Buttler.
“I think this seems to take more time to sink in, I think. There's a lot of 2019 being at home in Lords and the drama that unfolded, especially in that game, is just an amazing feeling to win. It feels different. That's all I can say. But it's no less good. But yeah, just delighted.”
What helped England was not being fixated on the past, being adaptable and just being true to the spirit of this format. Decisions like allowing Alex Hales, one of the best T20 openers currently, get back into the setup after serving time for his misdemeanours in 2019, is an example. Right from the appointment of the coaching staff to how every player had absolute clarity about their role, England ticked many important boxes.
“There's not been any technical stuff. I would say it's very tactical. Everyone seems very clear. Guys taking a lot of ownership makes my job a lot easier to pass it over to them and say I trust you to bowl whatever you think you need to bowl, and they've just taken their ownership and been brilliant,” said Buttler.
“I think the perception of our team has changed a lot over the last few years. We've certainly not played it safe, and we've had results doing that. We know we've always tried to push the boundaries, tried to get ahead of the rest of the world and be braver than anyone else, and we'll take what comes from that. We know we'll slip up along the way, but we certainly trust that method and it's served us well, and we trust it in big games, as well.”