‘We’ve tried to push the boundaries’: Jos Buttler hails England after final heroics

After England beat Pakistan by five wickets to win the T20 World Cup and become the first men’s team to hold the sport’s two great limited-overs trophies simultaneously, Jos Buttler declared this might be just the start of a period of global domination.

“A lot has been made of the changes in white-ball cricket in England, and the journey the team has been on,” said the captain. “To have won [the 50-over World Cup] in 2019 and now win this T20 World Cup as well, it just shows the vision that people had at the start, of where we could get to as an England white-ball team – and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go on from strength to strength.”

Just seven years after their early elimination from the 50-over World Cup, a trauma that kickstarted a white-ball revolution, England can now claim to be undisputed champions of the shorter formats. “I think the perception of our team has changed a lot over the last few years,” Buttler said. “We’ve certainly not played it safe. We’ve always tried to push the boundaries, tried to get ahead of the rest of the world and be braver than anyone else. We know we’ll slip up along the way, but we trust that method and it’s served us well.”

Buttler hailed Ben Stokes as a “true match-winner” after England’s Test captain scored the runs that saw off a spirited challenge from Pakistan in Melbourne. Stokes’ unbeaten 52 off 49 balls was remarkable not for the speed at which he scored but for the pressure he was labouring under, with the 31-year-old again displaying the characteristics that convinced England’s then captain, Eoin Morgan, to call him “superhuman” after a similarly crucial contribution to England’s success in the 2019 50-over World Cup final.

“He’s been there in those scenarios time and time again, he just has a lot of knowhow for how to do it,” Buttler said. “It certainly wasn’t his most fluent innings, he probably didn’t time the ball as well as he can, but you knew he was never going to go down without a fight, and would stand up and be there at the end. He’s a true match-winner, and we’re immensely lucky to have him.”

Stokes insisted that he did not deserve to be singled out for praise given the quality of England’s bowling, particularly that of Sam Curran, who took three wickets for just 12 runs in his four overs, and Adil Rashid. “In finals, especially chasing, you forget all the hard work that came first,” he said. “To restrict them to 137, the bowlers have to take a lot of credit. Sam has done it all tournament and Adil has turned up at the back end of the tournament when it really matters, and that was the best I’ve seen him bowl for England in a T20. I’m very proud – you don’t get to win World Cups too often so to win two of them is pretty special.”

It was England’s ninth game against these opponents in less than two months and as Pakistan came to terms with their defeat it cannot have helped to hear Buttler say that it was while in their country in September that his World Cup-winning side truly came together after a difficult first few months under his captaincy. “Relationships take time, and as you get to know people better and better, you build trust,” he said. “I’d say the Pakistan tour – for the group, not just myself and the coach but for everyone involved, just seemed like a really good tour.

“Lots of bonds were built, and I thought we got back to playing some really good cricket there. It takes a bit of time to get to know people well and get to feel comfortable, and there’s so much talent in the group that as soon as we feel comfortable we’re a dangerous team.”

Pakistan scored just 137 runs in their 20 overs but restricted England’s scoring effectively to bring the contest back into the balance before their star bowler, Shaheen Afridi, sustained a potentially serious knee injury while fielding.

“In the batting we were 20 runs short but the way the fast bowlers started, in the first six overs and the middle overs, we had a comeback,” said Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain. “After the Shaheen injury maybe the match went to England’s side, but I am very happy with the way we performed.”