We all saw a new side to Jos Buttler on Sunday at Mirpur—and it could do both him and this England team the world of good. Ideally, of course, players don’t celebrate in each other’s faces, like the Bangladeshis did after Buttler was given out on review at a crucial stage of the game. And they don’t go back to the opposition huddle, like Buttler did, to give them a few choice words in return.
Cricket always talks about the fabled line that players shouldn’t cross. Whatever that line is, both sides crossed it here, writes former England captain Nasser Hossain for The Daily Mail.
But it can be a bit too easy to pass judgment on players from the comfort of the commentary box or armchair. Some of cricket’s most memorable moments have stemmed from aggression. Think of Curtly Ambrose squaring up to Steve Waugh. Everything has to be seen in context.
This England team only came to Bangladesh after making a tough decision about the security situation. They were playing in front of a partisan crowd of 25,000, in 38-degree heat and 90 per cent humidity.
It was their second game in three days in conditions that are unfamiliar to them. They’ll have been emotionally and mentally drained.
Sure, players shouldn’t lose their rag with each other. But let’s give them a bit of slack.
There’s also a wider point here about what you should expect from your captain. Yes, the spirit of cricket is important. But I can promise you, right now, that the England dressing room will not be fussing too much about that.
They’ll have seen how Buttler was prepared to stand up and show what kind of a captain he is, and they’ll feel extra motivation to beat Bangladesh in Chittagong.
I’d always back a captain who shows fight and passion, especially when that captain has a reputation for being a cool, calm, talented cricketer.
What Buttler showed was that this tour of Bangladesh is no box-ticking exercise. It matters to him and to English cricket.
The attitude of standing up for your team-mates in front of the opposition is why I would never ask Ben Stokes to change. It was hard to see exactly what the fuss was about when the players lined up to shake hands, but obviously Stokes took offence at something and piled straight in.
Like Buttler, he might have gone too far. But you can guarantee that Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace won’t be discouraging him from getting in the mix in future. It’s what makes him the cricketer he is. I’d have him in my team every day of the week.
My only advice now to the team is to channel their passion in the right way. Once a game is over, whether you feel like it or not, you make sure you line up with the opposition and shake their hands.
Buttler should tell his team-mates to go out there, win the game, silence the crowd, then walk off, shake hands and look every Bangladeshi in the eye.
Victory will be all that matters.