Jos Buttler doesn’t have to prepare long before his white ball team gets back into action in a T20 series against South Africa
England have won just one friendly in 17 games and are suddenly chasing scores in excess of 250 without breaking a single bead of sweat.
With the nation’s confidence in its Cricket Stars restored, attention shifted to the One Day International format where Eoin Morgan made the decision to step down from his role and Jos Buttler took the mantle.
If England could absorb and actually enjoy such a change in Red Ball cricket then surely the reigning ODI World Champions could also thrive with a reshuffle at the top, couldn’t they?
Perhaps understandably, we initially imagined we were simply dealing with two types of apples on the red and white ball teams, the only discernible difference being the color – the latter fruit has now quickly emerged as a renegade orange in the bowl, losing its skin .
Since Buttler took over, England have been eliminated from each of their ODIs within 50 overs and lost a T20 series.
They’ve also suffered their only 10-wicket loss on home soil – for new starts at a job, it doesn’t quite burn down the office with a toaster disaster, but it’s right up there with a fish lunch in the microwave faux pas.
Such results seemed incredible just weeks ago – is this really the same team that mocked the Netherlands cricket team in June and came close to hitting the 500-run mark in an innings?
When Morgan was in power his form was in constant flux, but what he has achieved has been to sacrifice his own abilities for the benefit of the team and cover up the numerous cracks that have now resurfaced since his departure.
England’s battling struggles in the Test arena have been the laughing stock of the ICC for many years, with the ongoing struggle to find a solid opening partnership that lasts – but their white-ball strike has thrived in recent years with the likes of Jason Roy, Bairstow and Buttler were all excellent and up until a few weeks ago there didn’t seem to be anything to worry about.
However, July was a different story altogether and it is now time to accept that some remodeling and renaming is needed to take England back to the old glory days of white balls.
It goes without saying that elements of that glorious recent history are of course still present in the current squad: Reece Topley’s 6/24 against India; Buttler’s 60/80 also against India and Liam Livingstone’s 38/26 against South Africa are all nice snippets of what was and is to come, but the moments have been falling increasingly short of what we’ve known for a while.
We’ve recently been spoiled with England’s Test success and the meteoric rise of ‘Bazball’ has arguably clouded our idea of what we expect from the nation’s cricket stars more broadly.
It would be unreasonable for the ODI side to mirror that performance – English Test Cricket had come from rock bottom and Buttler’s side arguably have a more complex, nuanced situation revolving around new management and captaincy rather than building from the rubble.
After England’s series defeat by India Buttler said: “I missed an opportunity today but I don’t think it has anything to do with captaincy.
“I’m an experienced cricketer but I’m a young captain so I think it’s a matter of not worrying too much about it. I have to learn a lot, try a lot and train.
“I need time and experience for that.”
Unfortunately for Buttler, his team and the fans, the ECB didn’t give England time.
Her summer has been packed with T20 and ODI series, as well as Test series, County Championship tasks and the upcoming Hundred tournament – leaving little time for the smooth and indeed successful transition to new white ball dominance.
These aren’t new issues, however, and they are certainly issues the 31-year-old would have been well aware of prior to taking office.
As captain of one of the top white ball teams in the world, Buttler will need to adapt quickly and efficiently if he can cement the cracks that have appeared over the past few weeks.
There’s no doubt the form England have reveled in for the last few years can return, but fans will hope the time and patience Buttler is asking for doesn’t come at the cost of several months of uncertainty and inconsistency.