Matthew Mott: Change of format can rejuvenate Jos Buttler

By Sports Desk December 10, 2023

England head coach Matthew Mott suspects a switch from ODIs to T20s and a shift to the top of the order can get Jos Buttler firing on all cylinders again.

Buttler’s World Cup hangover followed him to the Caribbean with two single-figure scores either side of a sparkling unbeaten fifty in a new-look England side’s 2-1 ODI series defeat by the West Indies.

He was out for a golden duck in Saturday’s decider in Barbados, caught at fine-leg after an imprudent hook, bringing the England captain’s average down to a modest 18.09 in his last dozen innings.

With ODIs on the back-burner till September, England can focus on building towards the T20 World Cup in June with a five-match series against the co-hosts, where Buttler will be in his usual opening role.

“It’s always good when you lose a series to change the format, you move on pretty quickly,” Mott said ahead of the T20 series opener on Tuesday at the Kensington Oval.

“Jos showed his class the other day and he may well, at the top of the order, come out and take the bowling on as he has done for for a number of years.”

Will Jacks and Phil Salt have put on four opening stands of 50 or more in five ODIs, finding some fluency together in the manner predecessor Jason Roy did, first with Alex Hales then Jonny Bairstow.

The pair’s success invites speculation as to whether England could persevere with the pair in T20s and move Buttler down to number three in a reshuffle, but Mott dismissed the notion out of hand.

“Jos is a lock-in, definitely opening,” Mott said. “He’s proven over a very long period of time.

“It will be just what he needs to get up the top and really boss the game from the start and I know for a fact he’s looking forward to it.”

Mott’s position came under scrutiny after England’s shambolic World Cup and he has lost 18 ODIs in his tenure and won 16 – but five of those have been against non-Test playing Ireland and the Netherlands.

A series defeat against a side that did not qualify for the World Cup was another low moment but the success of this tour might be judged on how the T20s pan out with a more experienced bunch of players.

Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes and Tymal Mills are now in tow and, alongside Reece Topley, they trained in Bridgetown barely 12 hours after England’s rain-affected defeat at the same venue.

The quintet give England more depth with the ball, while Mills and Topley are attractive options at the death after their pacemen struggled at the back end in the ODI defeats in Antigua and Barbados.

On both occasions, England were in with a sniff of victory courtesy of their spinners – led by teenager Rehan Ahmed, who was described as “a bit of a revelation for us with the ball” on this tour by Mott.

But Sam Curran was flayed and recorded the most expensive ODI figures by an England bowler in the opener while Gus Atkinson leaked 24 in an over when the Windies needed 33 in 24 balls in the finale.

“We’ve got some really good (death bowling) options,” Mott added. “The guys getting an opportunity haven’t had a lot of opportunity in this format yet but I think they will be better for the experience.

“Sam’s definitely a player that we really want to invest in. He hasn’t missed too often at the death for us. But he’s that type of bowler that wants the ball in his hand at the back end.

“When you’ve got guys who want to do that, they’ll come out on top more often than they miss it as well.”

Andrew Flintoff is due into Barbados on Sunday night and is scheduled to be at training on Monday as he rejoins England’s coaching set-up in a paid role as a team mentor.

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