“In Buttler, England has found a safe wicketkeeper, an attacking batsman, a perfect deputy to Eoin Morgan and also a brilliant finisher. England has found a complete cricketer in Buttler”
How often do you get a chance to whitewash Australia? Not many. With the series already in the bag going into the final match at Old Trafford, England would have wanted to go one step further and annihilate Australia. They did just that. But it took a special effort from Jos Buttler to do that. Coming in at a time when England were 27-4, needing another 179, Buttler showed class and maturity to guide England home in a low scoring encounter. Not just that, Buttler remained unbeaten right till the end, bringing his sixth ton in the process.
Buttler’s innings reminded us of a certain Michael Bevan, who could do magical things with bat in hand when the chips were down. He has guided Australia to many memorable wins, from near impossible positions. Buttler’s contribution has always been important in England’s win. His average shoots up to close to 67 in winning causes and his strike rate too is 130-plus. We talk about Virat Kohli or a Rohit Sharma when it comes to being masters of chasing. We can also now take Buttler in the same breath. When it comes to completing successful run chases, Buttler’s numbers once again are phenomenal, averaging 66.20, to go with a strike rate of 112.96. This was also Buttler’s first century in a successful run chase in 21 innings
There was a weight of expectations when England hosted the Champions Trophy at their backyard in 2013 and 2017. But they fell short of lifting the trophy on both occasions. With the ICC World Cup just under a year away – again in England – the hosts will once again start as favourites. They have a settled XI and have enough depth in their squad in all departments to cause any opposition some worry.
Granted Australia did not have many of their key players – some due to injuries – but that does not take the shine away from this phenomenal series whitewash. Buttler slammed 275 runs in the 5-match series at 137.5. He has been England’s go-to guy when there was a need to accelerate at a quick pace at the end of the innings, but on Sunday, he showed that he can come in during the first powerplay and stay at the crease till the winning runs are hit.
Australia were comprehensively beaten in the previous four matches, but it took a career-best bowling effort from Moeen Ali to restrict them to 205, inside 35 overs. In fact, Australia had won the toss in all the five matches, yet England found a way to win convincingly.
Considered to be a T20 player, Buttler slowly showed promise and made his way into the ODI squad 2012 and two years later he made his Test bow against India. While his Test career is not particularly stable, he is a permanent fixture in the limited-overs side and has also led England four times so far. He was in the stands when Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid scripted history with their 318-run stand against Sri Lanka at Taunton in the 1999 World Cup and now he has a chance to play in the mega event at home and rewrite history.
Buttler owes a bit of his success to Ashley Giles who in 2013 was England’s limited-overs coach. One of Giles’ first jobs was to discard Craig Kieswetter and install Butler as the wicketkeeper of the side. Buttler never looked back after that, going from strength to strength, one match after the other.
In Buttler, England have found a safe wicketkeeper, an attacking batsman, a perfect deputy to Eoin Morgan and also a brilliant finisher. England have found a complete cricketer in Buttler.
Just before the Australia series got underway, England lost to Scotland – an associate member, who barely compete against the top teams. After this staggering series win, the loss to Scotland could be termed as a minor blip.
Buttler might have played 114 ODIs already, but he has just about hit his peak. He has the recorded if the fastest century by an England batsman. 40-plus ODI average and a strike rate of over 117 – If keeps this going, he will surely break many records in the future. The upcoming series against India, will be a litmus test not just for the visitors, but also for Buttler and the entire England team to see how they do against another settled, world-class limited-overs side. Buttler will be a key figure once again in England’s campaign. For now, he can afford to bask in the glory of his marvellous innings, but not too long.