Jos Buttler looks for Australia favour after England seal ‘stressful’ victory

Jos Buttler has admitted that – for one night only – he will be an Australia fan, after his England team did the needful against Namibia, albeit in deeply stressful circumstances in Antigua.

Needing a win of any description to keep their T20 World Cup hopes alive, England had to endure a three-hour rain delay at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, as a series of torrential downpours threatened to wash out their final group-stage fixture, and hand Scotland a pass to the Super Eight, even before their own clash with Australia could get underway in St Lucia.

But with the cut-off time looming, the clouds finally broke, and an 11-overs contest was able to get underway – which in turn was reduced to 10-a-side after another short break for rain. Buttler duly lost the toss, and was then bowled for a four-ball duck as Namibia’s seamers found the sweaty conditions to their liking in the powerplay. But with Harry Brook’s 47 not out from 20 balls leading the way, England reasserted their dominance to secure a 41-run win.

“It’s a big relief,” Buttler said at the post-match presentations. “It was certainly a stressful day when the rain was coming down. But I thought we put in a really good performance. I think everyone managed that situation well. We were well prepared when we did play, and we played well.

“I thought that was a really good score on that wicket,” he added, after England recovered from a dicey 13 for 2 in the third over to post a competitive 122 for 5. “After I got out, I was thinking 85-90 might be a really good score, with the way the ball was sticking in the wicket. But credit to [Jonny] Bairstow and Brook, a fantastic partnership with great cameos from Moeen [Ali] and Livi [Liam Livingstone]. They are class players.”

The victory still might not be enough if Scotland can continue their impressive form in the tournament to date by overturning Australia in their final Group B match, which was due to get underway some two hours after England’s match had finished. Asked by Mike Atherton at the presentation whether he would be supporting Australia in the circumstances, Buttler replied: “Absolutely…”

Assuming there are no more surprises in store in Group B, England will progress to the Super Eight without a clear idea of where their form is at, after a frustrating run of fixtures that included two wash-outs against Pakistan in England last month, a 36-run loss to Australia in Barbados, and three matches against Oman, Scotland and Namibia in which they have batted for a total of 13.1 overs.

“That’s just how it is,” Buttler said. “I think everyone’s dealt with everything that’s been thrown at us really well. Sometimes when you haven’t had a chance to spend much time in the middle, you can create things in this format. So credit to those guys, they’ve been hitting the ball well and they put together a vital partnership today. We’ve done all we can do. We’ll see what happens.”

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