Buttler: Bangladesh series 'exactly the kind of challenge we need'

"We're expecting a slow and low wicket, to test ourselves in tough conditions which will be great preparation for us moving forward."

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Jos Buttler addresses the media ahead of the first ODI, Dhaka, February 26, 2023

Jos Buttler admits Bangladesh are "very tough to beat in their home conditions"  •  BCB

Jos Buttler, England's white-ball captain, believes that the slow, low surfaces that his team are likely to face in their forthcoming ODI and T20I series in Bangladesh will be ideal preparation for this winter's 50-over World Cup in India.
Buttler's team recently added the T20 World Cup title to the 50-over crown that they won in such memorable fashion at Lord's in 2019, but their opportunities to finetune the defence of that latter trophy have been impacted by the constraints of the global itinerary.
They come into this campaign having played just 33 ODIs since the start of 2020 - by comparison they played 98 between the end of the 2015 World Cup and the final four years later - and have not won a 50-over series in four attempts since beating the Netherlands in June last year. This includes a run of five losses in a row until victory in their most recent outing in South Africa last month.
Life is unlikely to get much easier against Bangladesh, a team that hasn't lost an ODI series on home soil since England themselves beat them on their 2016 tour. Most recently, Bangladesh defeated India 2-1 in December, but Buttler said his side was relishing the chance to test themselves in their last overseas assignment ahead of the World Cup.
"It'll be a great challenge for us," Buttler said on arrival in Dhaka. "Obviously Bangladesh are very tough to beat in their home conditions, they beat India as well. So this is exactly the kind of challenge we need, nearing the World Cup, to test ourselves in probably the conditions that we as a side will find the hardest. This can be a great measure of where we are as a team.
"We're expecting a slow and low wicket, which is exactly what we want, to test ourselves in tough conditions which will be great preparation for us moving forward."
With the ongoing Test tour of New Zealand restricting the availability of some of England's multi-format players, and with a further group of players choosing to honour their T20 franchise commitments rather than join the tour, England will once again be unable to field their first-choice XI.
Nevertheless, the tour offers a further opportunity for Jofra Archer to fine-tune his international comeback after a successful return in South Africa. He and Mark Wood, who was rested after the Pakistan Test tour, will offer a 90mph threat which Buttler believes is still a key weapon even if the pitches in Bangladesh are not conducive to pace.
"Generally the wicket will be slower, but guys like Jofra and Mark Wood have fantastic airspeed, so someone who can bowl with such pace on these wickets is still a handful. It's not always to the benefit of the batsman. We have a nice variety in the squad. Right-arm, left-arm, high pace, guys who can swing it … we have a nice balanced attack.
The squad has also been reinforced by the addition of Surrey's Will Jacks, who has flown in after being an unused reserve on the Test tour of New Zealand, and may challenge for a place at the top of the order, in light of Jason Roy's struggle for form in recent months, especially after impressing in the recent SA20.
Another uncapped option is Rehan Ahmed, the 18-year-old legspinner who burst to prominence with his matchwinning role on Test debut in Karachi before Christmas. He may well get a chance in the coming contests, but moreover he will have the opportunity to work closely with England's veteran legspinner, Adil Rashid, which Buttler believes will be invaluable in his development.
"Rehan is a really exciting talent," he said. "He's still a very young man, just a teenager, so we're excited about his development and where we think he can go.
"It's great to have him in and around the England set-up. Adil Rashid has been such a star performer for us for a long, long period of time, so getting to spend time with him and discussing bowling and watching each other bowl will be a huge benefit to him, and the biggest stage in his development.
"We're really excited for someone with so much talent, not just with the ball but with the bat as well. So we look forward to watching him develop and hopefully turning himself into a brilliant international cricketer."
England's reputation in white-ball cricket has been built on their aggressive batting approach, with Buttler himself leading the way in their most recent world-record total of 498 against the Netherlands. However, he insisted that the approach was more subtle than simply swinging for the fences at every opportunity.
"We always try and be as aggressive as we can," he said. "The misconception is that we're aiming for 400 every time, whereas it's more about trying to push the boundaries of what's expected on the day and not settling for par. We'r trying to push the envelope higher. If the maximum that the wicket allows us is 100, can we try and score 100, instead of 80?
"We're just trying to assess the conditions and imprint our game as much as we can. Of course, you have to understand conditions, but we've always been more on the positive side as opposed to the more negative side."
For the hosts, one of the proudest moments in their international history came at the 2015 World Cup, when they progressed to the quarter-finals at England's expense with a thrilling 15-run victory in Adelaide. Buttler played in that match, which is widely recognised as a catalyst for the dramatic change of approach that propelled England to glory four years later.
But while Buttler acknowledged that that game is seen as a turning point in his team's fortunes, he also believes that the change was coming regardless.
"Even if we we'd won that game in 2015, we would have fallen down not far after," he said. "Looking back, we were quite a way behind the rest of the teams in the world at that stage. It was very obvious post that World Cup that we had to change the way we played, and try and be at the forefront of where the game was going as opposed to trying to catch up.
"I think we would have got to that point regardless, but obviously losing that match and being knocked out of the World Cup at that stage is absolutely now looked back at as that real turning point for English cricket. But I'm sure we would have been found out not long after, had we managed to get through that game."
In the meantime, the 2023 World Cup is looming large, and Buttler recognises the importance of the coming contests, which begin with two ODIs in Dhaka on March 1 and 3, a third in Chittagong on March 6, then three T20Is on March 9, 12 and 14.
"All our preparation is geared towards that World Cup," he said. "These are the conditions that will probably be the closest that we can get to playing in India. We only have these matches, and then we don't play again until September just before the World Cup, so it's a great challenge for us and we're excited for the series."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket