Jos Buttler accepts England’s confidence has taken a hit following a home summer without a white-ball series victory but urged the group to stay true to themselves as they look to rediscover form away from the international scene.
A crushing 90-run defeat at the Ageas Bowl saw South Africa take the T20 series by a 2-1 score and inflict further pain on new captain Buttler.
Since Eoin Morgan’s shock retirement from international cricket in June, India have beaten England in both limited-overs competitions while the ODIs with South Africa ended level following a washed out finale in Manchester.
We haven't performed how we would have liked the whole summer, so maybe the confidence has taken a bit of a dentJos Buttler
Hampshire was the setting for Buttler’s last chance saloon at getting off the mark since he officially took over the reins but half-centuries by Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram guided the tourists to 191 for five and in reply the hosts were dismissed for 101 to suffer their joint-heaviest T20 defeat.
“With the bat we never imposed ourselves, never managed to wrestle the initiative and put pressure on the opposition. I think that little bit of timidness is probably the thing we are frustrated with the most. We want to be known as a team that wants to be brave and take risks,” England’s new skipper reflected.
“I can be honest enough to say we haven’t performed how we would have liked the whole summer, so maybe the confidence has taken a bit of a dent.
“We have faced some challenging conditions at times but as individuals and as a team you must try to turn up every day with a fresh outlook playing the conditions in front of you trying to impose yourselves on the game. We haven’t managed to do that as well as we would have liked.
“For us as a group we now go away from being a team for a bit and a lot of players will go into The Hundred, which is going to be a great tournament for everyone involved.
“With the World Cup not far away, performances in The Hundred and trying to stick your hand up and showcase your best in a high pressure environment and in a big competition is probably the best thing for everyone in the group.”
Before England head down under for another T20 World Cup, they face seven sprint format matches in Pakistan and a big question mark remains over Jason Roy.
He struggled again to 17 before he edged Anrich Nortje behind trying to smash his way into form.
Roy’s top score across 11 white-ball innings at home for England this summer is 43 but even more worryingly has been his lack of aggression at the top which was his trademark characteristic during a number of years as one of the best openers in limited-overs cricket.
But Buttler, who has only hit one fifty since he officially replaced Morgan, insisted: “Jason hasn’t managed to play as well as he would like and I think myself at the other end I am exactly the same.
“The first port of call for myself is to reflect on my own performances and I haven’t managed to score the runs that I would have liked.
“As a captain especially you want to lead from the front and show the way for everyone else. I think there is a number of us in the group who haven’t been able to perform at the level we would like, but we still maintain lots of faith and trust in the guys we select.”
While David Willey impressed on his T20 recall with figures of three for 25, England’s other seamers coped some serious heat.
Reece Topley and Chris Jordan went for a combined 97 runs and despite a six over period without a boundary, South Africa paced their innings perfectly to set 192 for victory in the decider.
The early wickets of Roy and Buttler made it feel like England’s race was run before the powerplay was over and while Jonny Bairstow stuck around and top scored with 27, six of the hosts batters went for single-figure scores and they were briefly booed at one point by the Ageas Bowl crowd.
“It is the first time I have heard that for a very long time, so that frustration around the group shows we weren’t managing to put on the show we want to put on,” Buttler admitted.
“You can cope with winning and losing games but that style and stuff we want to be renowned for. It is something we must stay true to.”