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Buttler calls for more aggression as England go back to the future

It was here, 12 months ago, that England's one-day revolution began. After returning from a dismal winter that included a humbling World Cup campaign and a drawn Test series against West Indies, England arrived at Edgbaston without a head coach, without their leading run-scorer in ODI history (Ian Bell) and without two of their three leading ODI wicket-takers (James Anderson and Stuart Broad).

But perhaps rock bottom makes a strong foundation. For that young England side embraced the "no fear" approach advocated by their interim coach, Paul Farbrace - something of an unsung hero in England's resurgence - to such a degree that the next couple of weeks brought three of their highest ODI totals, including the first in excess of 400 and their highest successful run-chase.

If it was frustrating that the transformation came just after the World Cup, it was still a hugely welcome change. While progress has, in terms of results, been fitful and unpredictable - they have gone four ODIs without a win, after all - England have become a hugely entertaining team with realistic hopes of a bright future. This is a team the English (and Welsh) cricket-loving public can both believe in and like. It is no coincidence that the first two games in this series have been sold out.

The two centurions in that ODI against New Zealand experienced conflicting emotions in the first game of the current series. While Jos Buttler made a polished 93, Joe Root was dismissed for 2, meaning he has made four single-figure scores in five international innings this summer.

It is a measure of England's reliance upon Root in recent times that his current lean patch - it might be premature to suggest it is even that - is starting to generate some concern. Realistically, it is the sort of minor blip that any batsman can experience, though the chance he dropped at long-on towards the end of Sri Lanka's innings in Nottingham was most out of character.

Might he be jaded? Root and Moeen Ali, as first choice in all three formats, have played more international games - 43 since mid-May 2015 - than any other England player in the last year, with Root also volunteering to appear for Yorkshire as often as possible. It is, according to Buttler, a problem that the England management are trying to keep an eye upon.

"It's probably just because of the high standards he's set over the past two or three years of international cricket that people expect 50 or 100 from him every time he plays," Buttler said. "If he scores a 60 or a 70 at a run a ball you probably don't even bother writing about it, it's just what he does. He's a fantastic player and I'm sure he'll bounce back.

"But there are a lot of pressures and expectation on him and he plays all forms of the game. I think that's something England management always have to be careful with guys like Joe, Moeen and Ben Stokes because they're very important in all three forms. It's something to keep an eye on. He's a very important player. If he needs a rest, he'll say he needs a rest and it will happen."

Inevitably, Buttler's performance at Trent Bridge revived talk that he could return to the Test side. He was dropped in November largely because his batting form deserted him and has not played a red-ball game since.

But the world has changed. And where once selectors were unlikely to consider a man for Test selection who had not played a first-class game for more than seven months, it may be that, these days, they accept that the fluency and confidence shown in white ball cricket is enough.

So while there is an argument to suggest that, had Buttler chosen to skip the IPL and prove himself in the County Championship, he might have been closer to a Test recall, there is a counter argument that suggests the lessons learned in India may prove to be of greater benefit in the longer term.

"I'd love to play Test cricket and my ambition won't change," Buttler said. "Whatever the colour of the ball I want to be scoring runs and contributing. When you're out of the side that's what you've got to do to get back in it.

"Of course I want to play Test cricket. But I have to be playing well enough for that to be an option. I got dropped from the Test side for a reason but I am ambitious to get back in and the only way I can do that is by performing.

"Whether I can return before I've played red-ball cricket is a question for the selectors. All I can do is try and play as well as I can and score as many runs as I can. I probably do have to play red-ball cricket but I can't just create a four-day game.

"Obviously I made the decision to play the IPL and miss red-ball cricket, but I am really happy with where I am at with my cricket and enjoying my game.

"I learned a lot at the IPL. I learned about the pressures of playing cricket in India and the pressure of being an overseas player and that expectation on you from fans and owners. And I got to train with guys like Ricky Ponting and Jonty Rhodes.

"The knock on Tuesday just proves that I can pace an innings. It is something that I don't have to worry about at all. People who are successful at Test cricket just go about playing the situation. You have to be able to play a variety of inning but 20 overs or 50 overs, white ball or red ball, it is all the same game and you have to score runs."

While Buttler still has a bit to do to show that he is significantly better with the gloves than Jonny Bairstow, whose place in the Test side as a batsman is assured, it does appear that the management of the side are especially keen on the character that Buttler brings to every side in which he plays. It is relevant that he has, at various times, been vice-captain and stood in to lead the side when Eoin Morgan was rested for a T20 in the UAE.

Certainly Buttler's reaction to the top-order failure on Tuesday was typical of the side's new mentality.

"If anything we should come out and play even more shots," Buttler said. "That's the way we want to play our cricket. We want to put teams under pressure and there's no reason to change. This style of cricket has been good fun to play in and has given us some success. We'd love to continue that."

We can expect more of the same. While Edgbaston has only enjoyed three dry days in the last 14 - two of which have been this week - and has experienced 91mm of rain in that time, the groundstaff seem confident of having produced another fine surface. They have worked 17-hour days for the last week and a half to do so, including verti-draining the outfield.

"We shouldn't have to do anything different," Buttler said. "We should just go and play with that aggressive mind-set and fall on the positive side of what we ever we do. We have to be prepared to take a risk rather than the negative option."