England cricket 2022: can England’s ODI glory days return once more?

Jos Buttler does not have long to prepare before his white-ball team return to action in a T20 series against South Africa

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With all the turbulence England’s Test cricket team have endured, it would be fair to say no-one expected the immediate results to be quite so fruitful.

England went from winning just one Test match in 17 matches to suddenly chasing down scores of over 250 without breaking a single bead of sweat.

As England star James Anderson pointed out on the Tailenders podcast, the dressing room were so confident in Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow’s ability to chase down the remaining 260 runs to beat India, nobody was padded up and ready to bat for the final 20 overs of the match.

With the nation’s faith in their cricket stars restored, attention switched to the One Day International format, where Eoin Morgan took the decision to step down from his role and Jos Buttler took up the mantle.

If England could handle and indeed relish such a changeover in red-ball cricket, then surely the reigning ODI world champions could also thrive with a shake-up at the top, couldn’t they?

Perhaps understandably, we may have first imagined we were simply dealing with two types of apples with the red and white ball teams, with the only discernible difference being the colour - the latter fruit has now revealed itself to be rogue orange in the bowl, rapidly losing its peel.

Since Buttler has taken over, England have been bowled out within 50 overs of each of their ODIs and have lost a T20 series.

They have also suffered their only 10 wicket loss on home soil ever - as new starts in a job go, it’s not quite burning the office to the ground with a toaster disaster, but it’s right up there with a fish lunch in the microwave faux pas.

Such results seemed implausible just a few weeks ago - is this really the same outfit that made a mockery of the Netherlands cricket team back in June, and were on the cusp of hitting the 500-run mark in one innings?

When Morgan was in charge, his form was in a constant state of disruption but what he did manage to achieve was forgoing his own abilities for the sake of the team and covering up the numerous cracks that have now reappeared since his departure.

A dejected Buttler leaves the field after being dismissed in ODI match against South AfricaA dejected Buttler leaves the field after being dismissed in ODI match against South Africa
A dejected Buttler leaves the field after being dismissed in ODI match against South Africa

England’s batting struggles in the Test arena have been the laughing stock of the ICC for many years now with the perpetual struggle to find a solid opening partnership lingering on - but their white-ball batting has thrived over recent years with the likes of Jason Roy, Bairstow and Buttler all excelling and, up until a few weeks ago, there appeared no cause for concern.

However July was a starkly different story, and the time has now come to accept that it’s going to take some rebuilding and rebranding to get England back to the white-ball glory days of old.

It goes without saying that elements of that glorious recent history are of course still present in the current side: Reece Topley’s 6/24 against India; Buttler’s 60 off 80 also against India as well as Liam Livingstone’s 38 off 26 against South Africa are all beautiful snippets of what has been and what will still be to come, but the moments were fewer and further between then what we have known for some time.

We have been spoiled recently with England’s Test success and the meteoric rise of ‘Bazball’ arguably marred our perception of what we expect more broadly from the nation’s cricket stars.

For the ODI side to mirror this achievement would be unreasonable - English Test cricket had come from rock bottom, and Buttler’s side arguably have a more complex, nuanced situation revolving around new management and captaincy, rather than building up from the rubble.

Speaking after England’s series loss to India, Buttler said: “I missed a chance today but I don’t think that’s got anything to do with captaincy.

“I’m an experienced cricketer but I’m a young captain, so I think it’s (about) not worrying too much about it. I’ve got lots to learn, lots to try and work out.

“I need time and experience to do that.”

Unfortunately for Buttler, his squad and the fans, time is not something that the ECB have given England.

Their summer has been crammed full with T20 and ODI series as well as Test series, County Championship duties and the upcoming Hundred tournament - this offers little time for the new white-ball supremacy transition to run smoothly and indeed successfully.

However, these are not new issues, and they are most assuredly problems the 31-year-old would have been well aware of before coming into the post.

Buttler’s pleas for time and experience may well be legitimate, but it’s not something that can be given in reality, when England are once again only a few hours away from their next white-ball series.

As captain of one of the best white-ball teams in the world, Buttler must adapt quickly and efficiently if he can re-cement the cracks that have appeared in recent weeks.

There’s no doubt that the form England have revelled in over past years can return, but fans will hope that the time and patience Buttler asks for does not come at the expense of several months of uncertainty and inconsistency.