England star Jos Buttler has told GiveMeSport he is relishing their underdog tag as preparations for the 2015 World Cup ramp up when the squad fly to Sri Lanka this weekend.
The wicketkeeper is part of a 15-man group who are travelling to Asia on Sunday where England will play seven One Day Internationals before Christmas. Alastair Cook’s men are travelling to Sri Lanka as outsiders to win the series, let alone the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand which begins in February.
Victories have been hard to come by in white ball cricket since England upset the odds in the summer of 2013 where Cook led his country to the final of the ICC Champions Trophy. Since then England have lost two ODI series against Australia whilst India and Sri Lanka have also proved too strong.
However, a three game series victory in the Caribbean earlier in 2014 and a fantastic 41-run victory over India in the final ODI of the summer have proved bright spots to build-on.
Buttler himself has been a shining light since his introduction into the senior England set-up in 2011 and he has already played in 77 fixtures for his country across all three formats of the game. The Lancashire keeper also fitted into the Test side like a glove in July where he performed admirably with the bat and also behind the stumps.
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Despite a brilliant end to the Test Match summer all attention is now focused on 50-over cricket. England’s opening game of the World Cup is against Australia on Valentine’s Day and before the biggest ODI tournament begins a Triangular Series has been penned in, meaning Cook will also lead his side against the old enemy and India in January.
Buttler isn’t looking too far ahead and he has told GiveMeSport crucial improvements need to be made on the tour of Sri Lanka.
“It is a really exciting time for English cricket,” the 24-year-old admitted.
“I think we have huge improvements to make and we want to make them fast ahead of the World Cup.
“It is certainly quite exciting but we obviously need to put in some performances in Sri Lanka that show we can win games of cricket. Obviously the conditions are going to be different but I think it will be a great test against a strong team and it should show us where we are and the improvements that we talk about we actually have to do on this tour.”
Underdogs is often a tag where England excel and with their XI still far from settled the Sri Lanka tour is absolutely crucial in gaining some consistency and momentum. That process will be made slightly more difficult with Stuart Broad and James Anderson absent from the tour as they continue rehabilitation on knee injuries.
That means the likes of Chris Jordan and Harry Gurney will have a great chance to stake a claim for a position in the team which could include all-rounder Ravi Bopara after his recall to the squad.
Like Bopara, most of the England side has something to prove and Buttler says being an underdog is not the worst situation to be in leading up to a world tournament.
“You don’t want to be the underdogs really because you want to be known as a really strong side but is it the worst place to be? I don’t think it is because it can take the pressure off and you can free yourself up so when people aren’t expecting much of you sometimes it’s a nice thing to prove people wrong.”