No respite for England captain Jos Buttler as South Africa offer next challenge

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Jos Buttler admitted England’s congested schedule is “a challenge” in his first few weeks as white-ball captain, and the rush of fixtures continues, with South Africa’s tour beginning with an ODI in Durham tomorrow.

Concluding yesterday, England played three iT20s and three ODIs against India in the space of 11 days, losing both series 2-1, and there is no let-up against South Africa.

In total, England will have played their 12 summer white-ball internationals in 24 days this month, before an international break for the second edition of the Hundred.

England put in another stuttering batting performance at Old Trafford yesterday and, unlike at Lord’s on Thursday, the bowlers were unable to bail them out, as Rishabh Pant made a brilliant maiden ODI century.

Buttler admitted that, having taken over from the retired Eoin Morgan this summer, he was being tested by the schedule.

“I’m learning a lot,” he said. “I have certainly found the first week of captaincy busy, but feel a lot more comfortable now. There’s been lots of games in a very short space of time, which I think has been a challenge. Sometimes it would be nice to have a day where you can just reflect a bit and not always be thinking.”

England will have Adil Rashid back for the six matches against South Africa. He missed the India series while on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Matt Parkinson stepped in for two T20s before being dropped.

The loss of Rashid, by far their most experienced and able wrist-spinner, left England’s attack unbalanced. Also included in the ODI squad for the first time is Matt Potts, who could make his debut on his home ground at the Riverside. Buttler said that the schedule meant some bowlers would need a rest, with the only day off between the series used to travel from Manchester to the north-east.

Buttler admitted that Reece Topley, England’s best player across the two series, had to have his workload managed yesterday in the face of the intense schedule.

“It’s been a tough schedule and Reece is just creaking a bit, so we will just have to look after him a little bit, as we will all our players,” he said.

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