Matthew Mott has called for patience after England ended a difficult summer without a home white-ball series win but has warned his underperforming stars places are up for grabs ahead of this winter’s T20 World Cup.
A humbling 90-run loss to South Africa at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday, after being dismissed for 101 in response to the tourists’ 191 for five, saw the hosts conclude a challenging month on and off the field with a new low.
It was England’s joint-heaviest defeat in T20 cricket, which is far from ideal preparation ahead of October’s World Cup in Australia.
New white ball head coach Mott has seen Eoin Morgan depart the international scene in shock fashion this summer and watched on as Ben Stokes retired from ODIs. That double whammy, coupled with humbling defeats to India in both limited-overs series in July, has contributed to this side’s previous invincibility quickly fading.
“I think there’s more time than you think, but what needs to happen in the short term is to be really honest about where the group’s at,” the Australian reflected with the World Cup two-and-a-half months away.
“A lot of people reflect back on the past about how great a team this is. This is a very different unit at the moment. We need to acknowledge that and make sure we live in the present and work on what we can get better at.
“I think Jos is really honest about where we need to go. I’ll be as honest as I can be and we need to just acknowledge this wasn’t a great performance and even throughout the summer there’s areas that we can really improve on.
“All we ask I suppose is a little bit of patience and a bit of perspective that we’ve got some building to do.”
Mott admitted Buttler had faced a baptism of fire to his tenure after back-to-back limited-overs defeats to India by 2-1 scores last month. The ODI and T20 white ball series against South Africa only served to increase the scrutiny on Morgan’s successor.
Rain prevented a winner in the ODIs but England’s final chance of a white-ball series victory at home ended in embarrassment with six batters out for single-figure scores in Hampshire.
A lot of people reflect back on the past about how great a team this is. This is a very different unit at the moment. We need to acknowledge that and make sure we live in the present.
England white-ball head coach Matthew Mott
Buttler conceded on Sunday to being disappointed at his own performances this summer with just one fifty scored since he started the captaincy and Mott is eager to ease the load.
The 48-year-old added: “We probably just lacked a bit of confidence and I think that’s probably a few weeks of cricket where we’ve been on the back foot a bit, not really having a lot of time to change a lot of things and trying to put band aids over a few little cracks there.
“I think Jos is a very collaborative captain and he’s used the leadership around him very well but he’s going to take time to develop how he leads and the style that he’s going to lead in.
“Probably my role as coach is to work out where I need to fill in the gaps for him and where I can help take off some load.
“I want to make sure first and foremost he puts his own performance first because anyone that knows him, knows he is very hard on himself. For me I think a a big part is taking that burden away from him, freeing him up and letting him go out and show the world what a great player he is.”
A boost for Buttler and Mott before the World Cup will be Test captain Stokes anticipated return to the T20 set-up, having not played in that format for his country since last year’s tour of India, and he will feature in the top-four.
“Obviously ‘Stokesy’ comes back in to that to that team and he will add plenty,” Mott said.
“That’s something that has probably been missed by a few people. Having a world class bowler that bats in the top four is a huge asset to any team, so bringing him back in fit as a bowler will put a whole different slant on the way we put our team together.”
While Stokes presence will help, England have other decisions to make ahead of seven T20s away to Pakistan in September and three warm-up fixtures with Australia on the eve of the World Cup down under.
The likes of Phil Salt and Harry Brook are knocking on the door with Jason Roy again struggling on Sunday while Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran have failed to make a huge impact during a run of 12 white-ball matches in 25 days.
“When you’ve been a great player and you’ve delivered on a big stage, I think you deserve a bit of loyalty,” Mott explained.
“You can hold that for a bit and you get some currency from having delivered on the big stage, but at certain times hard decisions need to be made.
“I think for me, it’s about making good decisions at the right times and weighing up all those other things that we’ve just spoken about. No one in the team has mortgage on a spot.”