England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler expressed confidence over senior players in the side to step up as the ODI team look to cover for the absence of Ben Stokes, following his retirement from the 50-over format last week.
England have lost Stokes from ODIs after the first match against South Africa, citing unsustainable workload. This is a second big blow for England after their talismanic skipper Eoin Morgan retired from all forms of international cricket in June.
After taking over from Morgan, Buttler is still waiting for his first series win as England's full-time white-ball captain after rain washed out the series-deciding third ODI against South Africa at Headingley on Sunday. With less than 18 months left for their ODI World Cup title defence to happen in India, England need for their seniors to stand up till the time they find worthy successors of Stokes and Morgan in the set-up.
"We have to be realistic with where we are as a team in the ODI format. It is about building towards that World Cup in India (in 2023). What will we need in the conditions out in India? We have had a bit of change in the recent past, but we've also got a lot of very experienced players as well, who are natural leaders in the team anyway."
"It's about drawing a line in the sand, looking forward to that next World Cup and building a team to try and win it. When you lose a genuine all-rounder in Ben you are probably always going to feel short in either batting or bowling. Now we have time to work out which way we want to go and give guys an opportunity to stake a claim for that place," said Buttler after the match to Sky Sports.
Before the ODI World Cup next year, there is a Men's T20 World Cup happening in Australia in October-November this year. Till the mega event, England have 13 T20Is left to finalise their combination, starting from the three T20Is against South Africa at Bristol on Wednesday.
"Hopefully they're going to be some great matches. Looking at some of the grounds we're playing at, there should be some really high-scoring games as well, which will be exciting."
"I think some of the batters are hoping for some really good wickets, as we've had some challenging white-ball conditions this year, whereas England in recent years has generally been very favourable for batting. That has been a good learning curve. With a World Cup just round the corner, we have guys trying to stake a claim for a place in that 11," stated Buttler.
The wicketkeeper-batter signed off by praising tall left-arm quick Reece Topley for being a standout bowler for England, picking 15 wickets in white-ball matches in the ongoing home summer. "Reece has been the obvious one who has been outstanding. It is great to see him take all those wickets. He has got all of the attributes and it's fantastic to see him fit and playing so well."