Jos Buttler has no regrets about England’s long-term strategy following their final ODI loss.

As England suffered a 50-run loss in the third ODI against Bangladesh in Chattogram, Jos Buttler acknowledged that long-term planning was more beneficial than any short-term fine-tuning, even in the final overseas ODI before this winter’s 50-over World Cup.

With a 2-0 lead after the Dhaka leg, England had already won the bilateral ODI series in Bangladesh, becoming the first away team to do so since Buttler personally supervised a 2-1 victory in 2016–17.

Instead of attempting to sweep the series, England decided to rearrange their squad, giving Rehan Ahmed his first white-ball start and moving Sam Curran up to No. 5 in the batting order. Curran scored 23 runs as part of a 49-run fourth-wicket stand with James Vince, another supplementary pick.

Rehan was the only bowler to use all ten of his allotted overs in limiting Bangladesh to 246, but England was ultimately defeated by Shakib Al Hasan’s skillful batting. Al Hasan top-scored with 75 from 71 balls before stifling the run chase with the fine figures of 4 for 35, including his 300th ODI wicket.

“Those numbers speak for themselves, don’t they?” Buttler, England’s white-ball captain, said. “Playing against him, you know what a great challenge it is. If you go back to the 2019 World Cup, his performances were outstanding. He’s a brilliant player.”

Buttler, however, was unfazed by the defeat and argued that England’s victories in the first two games, particularly the bravely centuries scored by Dawid Malan in the first game and Jason Roy in the second, had provided his team with plenty of insight into the strategy that might succeed on comparable wickets in India this winter.

“We changed a few things today and gave an opportunity to people in different ways, but I thought the intensity was still there,” Buttler said. “We certainly believed we could win the game, and if we played well enough, we would have won the game.

“But there was an opportunity today to give Rehan a debut, and for Sam to bat at No. 5, and this is the last ODI we play now until September. So, especially in these conditions, it felt like a great chance to gather as much information as we can, and expose people to different situations. If we lost the game, then so be it. But I certainly believed we had a team and a performance that could have won the game today.”

Buttler’s pessimistic outlook is in line with England’s ongoing inability to field their starting Eleven in ODIs. Rehan’s pick made him the 39th different player they’ve used in 36 games since winning the 2019 final, while England’s record during that time has been similarly hit-and-miss with 18 victories and 15 losses.

Buttler said that the team that assembles in India in seven months will be able to draw on comparable experience to overcome their lack of physical preparation given that England’s success in the T20 World Cup in Australia before Christmas was achieved despite a similarly interrupted build-up.

“I think the schedule is hugely challenging to always get your best XI on the field,” Buttler said. “But the game has changed a bit [since] the previous cycle of the World Cup.

“Looking back to the T20 World Cup, we probably went into that World Cup having never played our perceived best XI. But then to get into the tournament and go on to win it, that gives you great confidence that, even though we haven’t had the opportunities to always play our best team, international cricket has become [more] focused on the ICC tournaments. I think that’s the way we’re building towards that. And we know that, come the World Cup, we will have the opportunity to pick from everyone who’s available.”

Due to the constant demands placed on England’s multi-format players, including Ben Stokes’ retirement from 50-over cricket, and Joe Root’s absence from this tour due to the tour’s scheduling conflict with the recent Test series in New Zealand, England’s first-choice batting unit has been particularly depleted recently. Jonny Bairstow would have been unable to participate in this tour for the same reasons if he had not previously been diagnosed with a broken leg.

So, this third ODI was undoubtedly of the most importance for players like Phil Salt and Vince, two batsmen who would seem most likely to lose their spots in a full-strength side. As Salt and Vince both failed to build on their promising starts of 35 from 25 balls and 38 from 44 balls, respectively, they were clearly upset with themselves.

“Everyone is desperate to play well, whether you’re an established player or whether you’re someone who’s potentially seen as on the fringes,” Buttler said. “We know there’s huge quality in those guys, and it’s great to expose them to these conditions but, I think, if you’re looking at the game today, we needed someone to go on and really take ownership of that chase.

“One great learning is, when you lose a couple of wickets in clusters in these kinds of conditions, it’s a good time for the opposition to really squeeze you and you feel under pressure. So when you look at the first two games, Malan taking the game all the way through and Jason Roy playing a long innings to score a hundred, yeah, we maybe just missed someone today going on and playing that match-defining innings.”

Buttler argued that England’s performance had not lacked “intensity,” but he did admit that they had used the “opportunity” of the rubber-ball scenario to test out different strategies. In addition, Curran was given the chance to reply with the bat to a challenging scenario when a 54-run opening stand between Roy and Salt collapsed with the loss of three wickets in the space of eight balls (England’s eventual player of the series, Adil Rashid, bowled just five).

“He doesn’t lack confidence,” Buttler said, after Rehan – at 18 years and 205 days – had struck with the final ball of his spell for the debut figures of 1 for 62. “He’s very trusting in his ability, which is fantastic for a young guy, and he was willing to bowl to very aggressive fields and challenge himself, which is a great sign moving forward. For a guy on debut, I thought he handled himself brilliantly well.

“We are blessed with a lot of allrounders in our squad, and it felt like today was a good chance to use them all,” Buttler added. “I see huge potential in Sam Curran’s batting and today there was an opportunity for him to get higher up the order. So yeah, that’s the thinking behind it.

“We played some really good cricket throughout the series, and I’ve spoken a lot about these being great conditions for us to challenge ourselves in.

“These are probably the conditions that we would find the hardest as a team. Bangladesh are a tough side to beat in their own conditions. So to win the series, there’s plenty to learn. Things that we’ve done well and areas that we can also improve.”

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