Eoin Morgan has demanded that he would have kept on review Jos Buttler as a top-order batsman in T20 cricket regardless of whether he had failed for a third time in the series in the final T20I at Durban, depicting him as one of England’s “greatest-ever white-ball cricketers” and contrasting him with AB de Villiers.
Buttler’s batting position has been a steady point for discussion all through the series. Since Rajasthan Royals promoted him to the top of the order in May 2018, he has opened in 31 out of 32 T20 innings, including every one of his last eight games for England.
While scarcely any uncertainty the reality he is a destructive player opening the batting – he has averaged 44.58 with a striking rate of 154.66 in the role since being moved up in the IPL – there is a way of thinking that proposes England’s wealth of top-order options however deficiency of finishers implies that he would be best utilized as a floating middle-order batsman.
Be that as it may, Morgan has demanded all through this series that Buttler is utilized best as a top-order player, saying that he didn’t see his 29-ball 57 at Durban as vindication. “If he’d failed today, he still would have been considered in the top three,” he said.
“He’s a very fine player. He’s got unbelievable ability to take any bowling line-up apart and to have somebody in your side like that is great. I don’t think he played that well today, but he got a score on the board and set a really good platform for us to try and chase a score down along with Jonny [Bairstow].
“[Jos is] one of our greatest-ever white-ball cricketers,” Morgan told Sky Sports. “I realize why people talk about him so much, but not in a negative way. I think he has as much talent like someone like AB de Villiers.
“It took AB de Villiers a long time and a lot of games to get going in a South African shirt. We need to back guys that have that sort of talent, and Jos Buttler’s been around a long time now, and we know when he delivers, we win games of cricket.”
“At times you can be the victims of your mentality, so we said we’re not going to leave anything in the tank at the halfway stage, and we didn’t,” Eoin Morgan said.
Morgan admitted that the arrangement to utilize Buttler top of the order could change between now and the T20 World Cup, which begins in October, however, kept up that the top three’s ability to break the back of a run chase and to lay a platform on which the middle order can build was crucial.
“I think the priority at the moment is to get the top three [Buttler, Jason Roy, and Bairstow] as many balls under their belt as they can,” he said. “They’re the most destructive players that we have. If that changes between now and the World Cup, and we feel the need to fill a gap somewhere, then we might change it, but for the moment it’s an extremely destructive batting line-up to play against.
“The advantage that we have now is we have guys going away, playing Pakistan [Super] League, IPL, they’ll come back and play in the Blast, then play in the Hundred. So there’s a lot of T20 fixtures, [of a] high-quality standard, that we do look at – guys in pressure moments, how they deliver.
“We encourage our guys, particularly our senior guys, or guys who are trying to get into our squad or final XI when they go to a tournament like that – they need to go and try and be MVP, leading run-scorer, take the most wickets, stand out, be the man. So when they come into international cricket, it’s not a surprise.”
Morgan acknowledged that England had “not played our best cricket” all through the series, and recommended that they were “rusty” in the first T20I at East London, yet said that he was constantly sure that his side could pursue down an impressive objective of 223 in the last game.
“[It was] a belting wicket with really short boundaries – a real bowler’s graveyard, so to speak,” he said. “Our bowlers kept it within something changeable, and at the halfway stage we talked about 2016 when we chased down 230 against South Africa in the second game of the World Cup. At times you can be the victims of your mentality, so we said we’re not going to leave anything in the tank at the halfway stage, and we didn’t.”
Despite a troublesome back prompting proposals he may step down as England’s white-ball captain after the 50-over World Cup win the previous summer, Morgan has been in imperious form since that triumph. In his last eight T20I innings, he has hit 328 runs off 179 balls, averaging 54.66 with a striking rate of 183.24, and matched his record for the quickest half-century by an England batsman at Centurion with a 21-ball exertion.
“Not bad,” was Morgan’s assessment of his form. “I’ve not been working on a great deal of stuff,” he said, “mainly just keeping my head clear, and being precise about what I’m trying to do, trying to work with the guy at the other end the whole time [and trying to] marshal the troops a little bit.”
As a captain, Morgan has kept on working intimately with England’s white-ball investigator, Nathan Leamon – “trying to make little fine adjustments” – and clarified that his regular use of Moeen Ali in the Powerplay was an endeavor to target Quinton de Kock’s relative shortcoming against off-spin.
“There’s a gambling element as well, a bit of risk/reward. We’ve seen that throughout the series, trying to get Quinton and Temba [Bavuma] out. It’s not easy at all, but continuing to bowl Moeen while Temba’s taking it easy at one end and Quinny’s taking him on, the odds are in our favor whether he gets hit or not. My gambling does come into it a little bit.”