Buttler braced to ramp up pressure on Australia
It won't rank up there with the most cutting of barbs between Ashes rivals, but Jos Buttler admitted it would be "nice" to knock Australia out of the Champions Trophy when the sides meet at Edgbaston on Saturday.
England go into the match knowing they are secure in the semi-finals and inked in for a return to Cardiff where they toppled New Zealand. For Australia, their concerns are more immediate.
There are scenarios involving a washout between New Zealand and Bangladesh and net run-rate where Australia, by the skin of their teeth, could go through even if they lose to England. But the only way to be sure is to win. If there is a positive result on Friday, for a few hours at least, England will have large swathes of either New Zealand or Bangladesh supporters in their corner.
The Ashes are still five months away, but an early shot across the bows would leave England feeling even better about themselves, not to mention removing one of the pre-tournament favourites. And if history is any guide, it favours them. In both the 2004 and 2013 tournaments they toppled Australia at Edgbaston.
The 2004 semi-final was a crucial building-block for a side that was beginning to believe they would be able to go toe-to-toe the following summer - in what became the era-defining 2005 Ashes - while, in 2013, the victory set in motion an unravelling of Australia's fortunes, with David Warner later taking a swing at Joe Root in the Birmingham Walkabout, and Mickey Arthur being sacked a few weeks later before the Ashes had even begun.
Asked about the prospect of ending Australia's tournament, Buttler said: "Yes, it would be nice. We will not think too much about that. We want to win, keep our momentum going no matter who we are playing, but it is always nice to know that would be the outcome if we did win.
"We now know we have qualified for the semi-finals but we want to be going there on the back of a win and we will be desperate to do that on Saturday. We have got some good memories of playing there. It is a ground we like playing at, which is one of the advantages of being at one, isn't it?"
On a personal level, Buttler will enter the match on the back of his most significant innings of the year. His unbeaten 61 off 48 balls ensured England, as is almost the norm now, passed 300 having threatened to fade away as New Zealand made regular inroads.
The highlight of the innings was the wind-assisted scoop off Trent Boult which almost took out a cameraman on the gantry at the River Taff end but, until that shot, it had been a restrained display of around a run a ball. At one stage he had 38 off 36 deliveries, then his final 12 balls - which included the scoop - earned 23, and it could have been more if he had been able to make better use of the final over.
It was Buttler's second half-century in three innings, following his 65 not out against South Africa at the Ageas Bowl, and has quickly quietened any whispers about his form following lean series against India and West Indies in which he mustered 80 in six innings.
"I think maybe in the India and West Indies series I was short of runs. Going away to the IPL, I felt in fantastic form and then, since I have been back, I have scored a couple of fifties in three or four games and now I feel in good form," he said.
"The wicket was slow with such a big boundary, I was trying to run twos as much as possible and I did not find the boundary as much as I am used to. We couldn't quite throw caution to the wind because we kept losing wickets, so I had to take that responsibility to bat until the end to ensure we got up to 300."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo