14/07/2024

How Jos Buttler has assumed the leadership mantle from Eoin Morgan

Jos Buttler’s record as a captain in ICC limited-overs tournaments is unblemished, having led England to ICC Men’s T20 World Cup glory in 2022.

That was his first campaign in charge, and now the hard-hitting middle-order batter will look to add one-day success to his T20 crown when England try to retain their title in India.  

After the retirement of Eoin Morgan, who brought the team together in such impressive fashion on home soil in 2019, Buttler was an obvious candidate to take over in both forms of white-ball cricket.  

In a side that was typified by its attacking approach and desire to dictate matches, who better than the team’s most destructive batter to lead from the front?  

So far, Buttler has flourished with the captaincy. His record with the bat as skipper in T20 cricket is marginally better than without the captain’s armband. The difference is starker in ODIs. From an already impressive average of 40.67, Buttler’s average jumps to 45.21 when given the added responsibility of leading the side.  

That has been perhaps the most important development of the Buttler reign. As arguably England’s most important player, it was crucial that he continue to deliver with the bat.  

Captain or not, Buttler is capable of winning games on his own. His 11 ODI hundreds are the most of any active player who bats at No.4 or lower, with nine of those hundreds coming in victories.  

If Morgan was the federator, Buttler leads by example. His fearless approach to the game embodies this England side.  

He has not been part of the Bazball revolution in Test cricket, and yet England’s red-ball strategy seems inspired by Buttler’s dominating approach when facing the white ball.  

And when it comes to the biggest stage, Buttler delivers time and again. He was England’s top run-scorer at both the ICC Men’s T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022, while four years ago he saved his most important innings for the final at Lord’s, making 59 as he and Ben Stokes put on 110 for the fifth wicket that allowed England to rebuild and take the match to a Super Over.  

The one anomaly in his ODI record is how he has fared in India to date. Curiously, in eight matches on Indian soil, he has managed just 83 runs at an average of under 12.   

On the surface, that would appear to be a concern heading into the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 which will be hosted entirely in India.  

Take a step back, however, and those worries begin to evaporate. Firstly, because Buttler has had no such struggles in Indian conditions in T20 cricket, averaging 42.60 for England.  

And secondly, because he has established himself as one of the greatest overseas performers in the Indian Premier League in recent years.  

Only Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle have more IPL hundreds than Buttler, who has been a mainstay for Rajasthan Royals at the top of the order.  

So if conditions are not an issue, it would appear more to be a quirk of a small sample size that has seen Buttler struggle in ODIs in India to this point.  

With such a single-minded drive and a daring approach to the game, there is no reason why Buttler should not turn that record around over the course of the next month and a half.  

That will all start against New Zealand in Ahmedabad in the opener on October 5. Four years on from playing a key part in England getting the better of the Black Caps to lift the trophy for the first time, expect Buttler to lead from the front as they attempt to defend their title.

© ICC 2023

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