Buttler must prove England still have edge in T20 against South Africa

Jos Buttler must prove England haven’t lost their edge by securing first series win as white-ball captain against South Africa in T20 clashes

  • Jos Buttler will be hoping to lead England to a series victory over South Africa 
  • The first test begins on Wednesday in Bristol, with Buttler as permanent captain
  • He is under pressure as a batter, scoring more than 30 just once in eight innings 

Jos Buttler goes into Wednesday’s first T20 international against South Africa at Bristol knowing it represents his last chance this summer to secure a first series victory as England’s permanent white-ball captain.

A pair of 2-1 defeats against India in the one-day and 20-over formats was followed by a 1-1 ODI draw with the South Africans — though it was the tourists who were in the stronger position when rain ruined Sunday’s decider at Headingley.

Amid suggestions that England’s limited-overs teams have lost their edge following the retirement from international cricket of Eoin Morgan, Buttler is also under pressure with the bat, having passed 30 just once in eight innings since taking over the job.

Jos Buttler is keen to secure a first series win as the permanent white-ball captain this summer

With opener Jason Roy averaging just 19 in that time, the batting has lacked its customary power. And there was more concern on Tuesday when Jonny Bairstow was spotted with an ice pack on his knee to ease swelling — though claims that he will be fit for Wednesday’s game, the first of three in five days, were backed up by footage of Bairstow bench-pressing Sam Curran in the gym.

For South Africa, though, there is a sense England are not the team they once were. ‘We’re feeling confident from the first ODI, and we were in a good position in the third,’ said David Miller, who will captain his country for the first time in three and a half years. ‘Momentum is there and confidence is high.’

England are boosted by the return to their T20 side of leg-spinner Adil Rashid, the world’s No 2-ranked bowler who missed the series against India to attend the Hajj, Islam’s holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

‘Team-mates have been asking about it, and I explain what it teaches you and why you do it,’ Rashid said. ‘It’s one of the five pillars of Islam, something that we Muslims have to do once in a lifetime. It teaches you patience, because you can be out there in the midst of 45-degree heat, with millions of people doing the same thing. Also gratitude and self-discipline.’

Buttler is leading England in the first T20 test against South Africa in Bristol on Wednesday 

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