England’s Dhoni?

Before the One Day International series kicked off between England and Bangladesh, there were many eyes cast upon the “stand in” skipper of the England side, Jos Buttler. Would he crumble under the immense pressure that surely is international captaincy. Or would he take it in his stride as calmly as he has done everything else in his career so far? Buttler seemed extremely composed before the first match, and was very nonchalant, and almost dismissive about any talks of the captaincy. Eoin Morgan has done such a brilliant job as captain of this flourishing England side in the last 15 months, that it surely would be a massive test of this England sides character to see whether they would be able to perform without their leader at the helm. It could be especially important for England to be able to quickly adapt to a new captain, and in many ways, a blessing in disguise that Morgan decided to skip this tour, because England just may have found their next superstar leader.

For a few years, Buttler has carried the tag of being a “bit of a slogger” down the back end of an innings. In more recent times, he has managed to demonstrate that he is much, much more than this and experiencing the biggest tournaments in the world such as the IPL can do such things to a player. On Friday, during the first ODI between England and Bangladesh, England were struggling towards the end of the innings with Stokes looking exhausted, and players like Moeen and the rest of the lower order unable to provide the explosive finish that England desired. Step forward the captain. Whilst every other player in the England team managed their runs at under a run a ball, or just over it in the case of Roy and Stokes, Buttler crashed 63 runs off just 38 balls with three fours and four sixes. At one point, Buttler was on 25 off 27 balls, until he decided it was time to push it on. It was his accumulating of ones and twos to get to 25 off 27 which was so reminiscent to MS Dhoni in his prime. Dhoni would always typically knock the ball into gaps with his unorthodox technique, running the ones and twos hard, and then just be able to flick a switch and hit boundaries at will. It seemed during the innings that Buttler just had the ability to decide whether a ball was going to go over the ropes or just into the outfield for a quick couple, which exemplifies what an outstanding talent he has become. Buttler definitely has an appreciation for throwing the old, classic English batting textbook out of the window, and following in the way in which someone like Dhoni bats.

Aside from his batting, Buttler also had to keep wickets and captain the side, like a certain number 7 from India always did, and in the One day format, still does. During the beginning of the innings, Buttler remained cool and collected, rotating his bowlers well, and knowing when to bring on spin, and bring on pace. As the innings progressed however, it looked increasingly likely that England were going to lose to Bangladesh with an impressive partnership between Shakib and Imrul Kayes putting England on the back foot. It looked increasingly worse when Buttler dropped what he described as “possibly the easiest catch in the history of international cricket”. Despite this, there was still a sense of anticipation that England were going to pull something special out of the bag, and that happened when Buttler brought on Jake Ball, and Ball won the game for England with a 5 wicket haul on debut.

Whilst it didn’t go as flawlessly as it possibly could, all the signs are there that England have unearthed a gem in Jos Buttler, and a possible captaincy candidate for all three formats, should Joe Root decide to simply focus on his batting in Tests and not the captaincy. Buttler’s captaincy will be further scrutinised in the following ODI’s starting on Sunday, and should he continue to impress, then England may well have found themselves their very own MS Dhoni.

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