Buttler expects team changes

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Published: Friday 6th March 2015 by The News Editor

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England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler suspects that changes will be made for Monday’s must-win World Cup game against Bangladesh in Adelaide.

England have stuck with the same XI throughout the tournament but three heavy defeats in four games has left them on the brink of an early exit.

Gary Ballance’s position at number three appears most at threat after his return of 36 runs in four innings, with Alex Hales his most likely replacement, although England’s bowlers might not feel completely secure either after Sri Lanka comfortably completed a record pursuit of 310 with 16 balls to spare last time out in Wellington.

England returned to training in Adelaide on Friday, after three days off, and Buttler believes the uncertainty over selection will create an added spark in the days leading up to their critical clash.

“I think so and I think that would be good for us,” he said.

“We’ve got three training days here where guys who aren’t in the side they are desperate to put their hand up to say they should be playing, and the guys who are in the side and haven’t performed as well as they would have liked want to get some form and say, ‘No I am the right man and stick with me’.

“That makes for healthy competition for the team.”

The clamour for Hales’ inclusion has grown since defeat to Sri Lanka with the 26-year-old’s match-winning ability an obvious lure following a barren campaign.

Should Hales come in, though, he will come in cold. The right-hander has batted just once in almost two months on tour when he made a rusty-looking 31 from 47 balls in the warm-up match against Pakistan on February 11.

Hales does have the benefit of local knowledge, after he was the Adelaide Strikers’ second-leading runscorer in the Big Bash League last winter, and proved in making a century against Sri Lanka in last year’s World Twenty20 that he has an appetite for the big moments.

“He’s an explosive player, I think he’s a fantastic player and he will be a fantastic player for England in the future,” Buttler said.

“I think he enjoys the big occasion, obviously there was that fantastic hundred he got in the World Twenty20 against what turned out to be the champions.

“If he gets his chance I’m sure, having sat on the sidelines for a while, that he is desperate to do well.”

England trained at St Peter’s College just outside of the Adelaide city centre as they focused on middle practice.

There were perhaps some instructive moments as Hales batted alongside Ballance during the split session while openers Ian Bell and Moeen Ali were kept together.

England will still be favourites to beat Bangladesh who have only beaten England twice in 15 one-day internationals. The last of those was, however, at the World Cup four years ago when the Tigers were two-wicket winners in Chittagong.

The Adelaide Oval will be far more suited to England and Buttler is confident, despite all that has gone on so far at this World Cup, that a win to keep the campaign alive can be secured.

“We are confident in ourselves and we back our quality,” the vice-captain said.

“Yes we haven’t played as well as we should have or would have liked to, but if we get near our best in these two games you would think we’re strong enough to come out on top.

“It is a simple situation, we’ve got to win two games of cricket and maybe it’s good to have that pressure on ourselves. Hopefully that will bring out the performance that we need.

“In simple terms we have got to play better than we have been to get through to the quarter-finals. We have to play well and win two games of cricket.”

Published: Friday 6th March 2015 by The News Editor

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