Jos Buttler has had ‘baptism of fire’ as white-ball captain – Matthew Mott

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Matthew Mott admits Jos Buttler has had a “baptism of fire” as England’s white-ball captain, as South Africa stand by to keep the pressure on.

It is little more than a fortnight since the retirement of World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan saw Buttler promoted to the top job and faced with a busy first month in the role.

His side are halfway through a packed July schedule of 12 games in 24 days and were left empty handed by India, who took 2-1 series wins in the Twenty20 and one-day contests.

Defeat in the 50-over format was a rarity for a team who had learned to dominate in home conditions under Morgan, with just two other losses since 2015, but India showed why they are already favourites to succeed England as world champions in their own conditions next year.

Head coach Matthew Mott (right) in discussion with Buttler (right).
Head coach Matthew Mott (right) in discussion with Buttler (right).

Mott, who is also new to the job following his appointment as limited-overs head coach in May, said: “There’s definitely been areas we can improve. We don’t have long to go into it in too much detail but it has been disappointing.

“I think ‘hard work’ is a good summary. We definitely haven’t played our best cricket, there’s no shying away from that. Jos’ leadership has been a baptism of fire. We know we’ve been off in a couple of departments and India made us pay heavily.

“But we have an opportunity to turn that around against another very strong opposition. We’ve only been together a few weeks as captain and coach and are developing a great rapport.”

Beyond the basic blueprint he left behind, he has also been close at hand as part of his new commentary duties and Mott revealed he remains in regular contact with the Dubliner.

The pair had only one series together, last month’s trip to the Netherlands, but that does not mean he has given up on learning lessons from the man who revolutionised England’s one-day game.

“I felt lucky he went on that first trip to Holland, he showed me the ropes, how the team ticks,” said Mott.

“Most mornings I still catch up with him, say g’day and get his thoughts. He’ll be a great sounding board for both Jos and myself about what he’s seen from the outside. He clearly loves the team and now he’s on the other side of the fence, he has a really good perspective and will give us some good feedback.

“There’s no doubt his legacy is huge, his leadership is renowned. But at the start it wasn’t like that. I saw a documentary the other day and he had his early struggles when the team wasn’t firing as well.

“You get judged at the end of your tenure, not at the start. I think he developed that experience over six, seven years, making a few mistakes, learning, getting better – that’s what we’re trying to do now.”

England have two fresh faces in their squad at Durham, with first-choice leg-spinner Adil Rashid back after undertaking The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and local favourite Matthew Potts called up for the first time in white-ball cricket.

Both could come straight into the team, Rashid to add control and wicket-taking threat through the middle and Potts to freshen up a hard-working seam attack.

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