Jos Buttler looked back on a watershed moment from England’s Adelaide past to seek inspiration for his attempt to take a giant step towards winning the Twenty20 World Cup.
It was here at the magnificent Adelaide Oval seven years ago that English white-ball cricket reached its nadir when a very different, old-fashioned England side were beaten by Bangladesh and crashed out of the 50-over World Cup.
How long ago that seems now, how different England’s white-ball cricket has been since and how Buttler would love cementing his own succession to the captaincy by beating India and reaching the final of his first major tournament in charge.
Jos Buttler is fuelled by the humiliating white-ball defeat to Bangladesh in Adelaide in 2015
It proved to be a defeat that was the nadir but now they are targeting redemption in Adelaide
How ironic, too, it seems now that the then England coach Peter Moores was pilloried for apparently saying ‘we will need to look at the data’ when asked his thoughts by the BBC on that Bangladesh defeat – he later told Sportsmail he actually said ‘we will need to look at it later’ – when modern Twenty20 cricket is so obsessed with statistics, ‘match-ups’ and analytics.
‘We’ve actually been talking about that in the dressing room,’ said Buttler, one of surprisingly five survivors in the England squad from that fateful day along with Moeen Ali, Alex Hales, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan.
‘It’s been clear to see the change in our mindset. It was a real line in the sand moment for English cricket and it’s been a fantastic journey to be involved in since then.
‘You only have to watch our younger guys to see that the way we play now is ingrained in English cricket. To be in another semi-final with a level of expectation that we should perform well is a great place to be for this team.’
Moeen Ali (right) is one of five survivors in the current team, which is captained by Buttler
Now, though, comes the crunch. Now comes the moment we will discover whether England really have launched a new white-ball era under Buttler and coach Matthew Mott, as they insisted at the start of this tournament.
Or whether what is actually an ageing England side have reached their peak and are now struggling to create that legacy Moeen Ali talked about the other day by winning more than the one white-ball tournament since the Andrew Strauss inspired 2015 revolution.
The might of India and their array of box-office talents, led by a rejuvenated Virat Kohli and the new sensation Suryakumar Yadav, provide formidable opposition on Thursday and will be backed by the majority of what is expected to be a sell-out 45,000 crowd.
Among them on the sidelines will be Eoin Morgan, the captain who did most to transform English white-ball cricket but now here as a broadcaster rather than his original plan of bowing out in Australia by leading England to another world white-ball title.
It would be easy for Morgan’s presence to cast something of a shadow over Buttler’s attempts to create a new England in his own image but the captain made it clear he is now in charge when asked on Wednesday if he would be seeking out his predecessor for advice.
Former white-ball captain Eoin Morgan (right) still speaks to Buttler as they are close friends
‘I speak to Eoin quite a lot because he’s one of my great mates,’ said Buttler. ‘But it’s very much about doing it my way now. Eoin’s not the captain of England anymore, I have to take that on and lead the team as myself.
‘We’re very much in a new time in English white-ball cricket now without him as a leader so I’m looking forward and have immense trust in the guys.’
Doing it Buttler’s way would include batting first if he wins the toss on Thursday and urging his side to carry on being brave even though the batting has spluttered rather than surged so far in this tournament.
That toss could prove crucial on a used Adelaide pitch but Buttler was at pains to insist on Wednesday that he does not see the surface which should suit India’s strengths, especially if they bat first and make England chase, as a decisive factor.
‘I’ve talked to the groundsman and he seems really confident he’s had time to put some good work into this wicket,’ said Buttler. ‘He seems comfortable it’s going to be a really good and consistent surface. At the moment I have no worries about the pitch.’
Buttler (right) is determined to right the wrongs of 2015 and guide England to a T20 World Cup
What Buttler does have concerns about is the need to make changes for the first time in this tournament. Dawid Malan looked far from fully fit while running and attempting to bat on Wednesday and looks sure to miss out. He seems certain to be replaced by Phil Salt.
‘He has a fantastic mindset, especially for the T20 format,’ said the captain of Salt.
‘He doesn’t fear anyone and is someone who wants to get on the front foot and take the game on. He would certainly not shy away from the occasion if he’s called upon.’
More worryingly, Mark Wood appeared to struggle through bowling 12 or so balls in practice on Wednesday and seems a much bigger doubt than first feared when he suffered ‘general stiffness’ on Tuesday.
He actually seems to have a problem in his hip and could miss out after making a big impression on this World Cup with his extreme pace. Jordan is the favourite to come in ahead of Tymal Mills should Wood miss out.
‘We will see how they both pull up,’ said Buttler of Malan and Wood. ‘We are trying to give them as long as possible but we will need guys to be fully fit.’
England also need all their players to be at their very best. Otherwise, for the second successive year, they could face elimination at the semi-final stage and another near miss in their quest for lasting white-ball greatness.
There are growing concerns that Dawid Malan (right) will run out of time to prove his fitness ahead of Thursday’s semi-final match-up against India