Jos Buttler insists England’s world-beating one-day side have not lost their golden touch after Sam Curran’s heroics narrowly failed to salvage a morale-boosting win in India.
England’s 50-over side went more than three-and-a-half years without losing a multi-match series, famously winning the 2019 World Cup along the way, but have now come off second best in each of their last two attempts.
They lost 2-1 at home to Australia at the end of last summer and went down by the same scoreline in Pune after Curran’s career-best 95 not out was not enough to prevent a seven-run defeat in the decider.
England have made a habit of winning from unlikely positions and finding a way to clinch pressure moments in the recent past but came up short against a target of 330 as the ODI leg went the same way as the Twenty20s and Test that preceded it.
The XI was missing its captain Eoin Morgan, on the injured list alongside Jofra Archer, while Joe Root and Chris Woakes were also rested, allowing stand-in skipper Buttler to put the setback in perspective.
“We’ve been a brilliant side for a long time now, I wouldn’t read too much into it,” he said.
“We’ve lost two series now but it’s two series in the last 11. We are still a very good side and we’re expanding the talent pool with a few guys missing and few other guys getting opportunities.
“It’s a long cycle looking ahead to the next World Cup (in 2023) and of course you want to learn and win at the same time. We’re disappointed when we don’t do that but there’s a big picture. I think we’re doing things right.
“We play the game to win matches and win series and we haven’t quite managed to do that, but there will be some great learning taken from the tour and some great exposure for players in this part of the world.”
Nobody will have learned more than Curran, who arrived at number eight with 162 still needed and left his side just a couple of boundaries shy of a stunning comeback. In the process he set off into uncharted territory, having previously boasted a top-score of 15 in ODIs and 57 in all professional limited-overs cricket.
It will go down as one of his most dramatic contributions yet in an England shirt but his competitive edge would not allow him to look past the final result.
“My initial feeling sitting here is we lost the game and lost the series,” he said.
“I’m really happy with how I played but I am someone who loves winning and our whole team loves winning, so to get so close is really annoying. To walk off to a bunch of lads really classing for me makes me feel proud but the whole point of playing the game is to keep learning each day.”
Buttler was able to cast Curran’s efforts in a more appropriate light, adding: “It took a fantastic effort from Sam to take us as close as we got, it was outstanding.
“It’s been a huge part of our side to have a never-say-die attitude and take games deep. He’s a very young man still but him and (brother) Tom, any time they’re put in those situations the two of them seem to have the character for the crunch moments in games.
“Sam keeps showing what a match-winner he is and he came up with the key wicket of Rishabh Pant too. He’s a real impact player and he’ll just continue to get better and better.
“It’s important to remember he is only 22 and the scope of where he can take his game is massive. We’re all very excited for him.”
India captain Virat Kohli, who had the satisfaction of leading all three series wins as he got the better of Root, Morgan and Buttler, was a happy man at the close.
“These are very exciting times ahead for us,” he said.
“It has been an amazing season for us and we wanted to finish on a high. This tour has been sweet, winning every series. When top-two teams battle, you get exciting games and England will not throw in the towel at any stage.”