England’s Stalwarts: Still a Force in ODI Cricket
As England prepare for another thrilling Cricket World Cup tournament, their captain, Jos Buttler, confidently asserts to The Telegraph that the team’s seasoned players are far from the end of their ODI careers.
The Ageing Guard’s Resilience
During a recent training session ahead of the ODI against New Zealand, a jovial observation caught Buttler’s attention. “We did a fielding session where it was old versus young, and 32-year-olds were making it into the young team,” quipped Buttler, who celebrated his 33rd birthday this month.
England’s arrival in Guwahati marked the culmination of a 38-hour journey and signalled the beginning of what could be their final performance in this squad format. Although the T20 World Cup looms next year, it doesn’t include the full array of stars. And as the ODI format continues to be eclipsed, this World Cup hints at an impending generational shift.
Despite the squad’s rich history, including eight members from the triumphant 2019 squad, recent shifts have been evident. The selection of Harry Brook in place of Jason Roy was, according to Buttler, “an incredibly difficult conversation.”
Reflecting on this evolution, Buttler noted, “That [fielding drill] shows a bit about where we are at. I don’t think we need to add any extra pressure on ourselves as a side. We need to enjoy it and be true to the things we’ve done over a long period of time.”
The Power of Experience
With a legacy dating back to the white-ball transformation of 2015, Buttler’s tenure has witnessed England’s meteoric rise in world cricket, underscored by their recent T20 World Cup victory.
Discussing the importance of experience, Buttler remarked, “Until you are in those moments as an individual and a team, you don’t know how to handle it.” He believes this wealth of experience uniquely positions them for the challenges ahead.
A Cautious Stance on India
Despite England’s formidable record, Buttler sees India as the team to beat. Citing their prowess in white-ball cricket and the advantage of home conditions, he opines that India holds a distinct edge.
Reflecting on England’s journey, Buttler expressed, “Four years down the line the schedule is different, with Covid, and we have had a very different lead-in. We go as a good side looking to win the World Cup, with no thoughts of being defending champions.”
The Road Ahead for ODI Cricket
The traditional ODI format has increasingly taken a back seat due to the popularity of T20s. With fewer matches and more franchise-based T20 competitions, players now have to adapt to different rhythms of the game.
Buttler, however, remains optimistic about the ODI format. “I certainly hope so. I think it’s a really good format of the game. There’s a balance between bat and ball in 50 overs that sometimes isn’t there in T20,” he elaborated.
To enhance the appeal of ODIs, Buttler suggests the reintroduction of tri-series, a format popular a generation ago. Although he’s unsure of its feasibility, he believes it could provide much-needed relevance to the format.
As England embarks on this World Cup journey, it not only serves as a defining moment for many of its seasoned players but also presents a moment of introspection for the very format they have dominated for nearly a decade.