Jos Buttler has been hailed as “the best white-ball wicketkeeper batsman in the world” in the aftermath of England’s dramatic victory at Old Trafford.
Buttler helped England recover from an apparently hopeless position of 114 for 8 to secure a one-wicket victory and, with it, a first 5-0 whitewash over Australia in ODI cricket. He finished unbeaten on 110. Nobody else in the England side passed 20.
He also completed a smart stumping to account for Shaun Marsh – pouncing when the batsman lifted his back foot for a moment – and running out Tim Paine with a wonderful direct hit from a lightening fast pick-up and throw.
That left Australian captain – and fellow wicketkeeper batsman – Paine full of praise for Buttler and admitting his own side’s batsman could learn plenty from watching him.
“He’s good; he’s very good,” Paine said of Buttler. “Right now, at the moment, he’d have to be the best white-ball wicket-keeper batsman in the world. I don’t think there’s too many guys to challenge him. MS Dhoni is pretty good, but right at this moment, Jos is at the absolute peak of his powers. He understands his one-day game so well and knows his strengths inside out and just doesn’t go away from him.
“He’s someone for our batters to watch and see first hand. Those experiences are going to be really good for D’Arcy Short or Travis Head to see him and Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy at their best.”
While Buttler has often provided example of his extravagant stroke-making ability in the past – he made a 46-ball century against Pakistan in 2015 – it was more his clear head and game awareness that impressed here. So while his 50 – which occupied 74 balls – was slower than four of his ODI centuries, it was so well-paced that he never allowed the run-rate to get out of control always seemed to be able to produce the shot required to release the pressure.
He did make one miscalculation, however. Finally left with just Jake Ball – the only real tailender in the side – for company, Buttler told his new partner they would only run if they could be sure Buttler could get back on strike. “But then I smashed it to long-off,” Buttler said, “didn’t see the guy and just ran. It was a poor decision from me.”
That left Ball to see out a nerve-wracking over from Ashton Agar – “He was fighting his instincts,” Buttler joked later, “I think he wanted to run down the pitch and smack it” – before Buttler, back on strike, was able to ease a Marcus Stoinis delivery to the cover boundary to seal the victory.
“It was pure elation,” Buttler said of the moment that followed. “You’ll probably never match that. I knew I had to be there at the end. Then plucking it from nowhere with one wicket left when we didn’t really have the right to win the game… it was very enjoyable. Winning games when you didn’t deserve to, they’re almost the more enjoyable ones.”
While accepting there were areas that needed attention in England’s batting display, in particular, England’s captain, Eoin Morgan felt the ability to win from an almost hopeless position would serve England well.
“When he plays like that he creates a lot of belief in the changing room that rubs off,” Morgan said. “He’s used all his experience and he’s somehow managed to get us over the line. It’s outstanding.
“Could anybody else in the side have done it? Probably not. But it shows the fight and the character we have in the locker when we need it.”