Despite going into the recently-concluded World Cup as favorites, hosts England found themselves on the verge of elimination after facing consecutive defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia in the league stages. However, the Eoin Morgan-side bounced back and won their final two league fixtures against heavyweights India and New Zealand to qualify for the knockout stage. The team then went on to win a one-sided affair against Australia in the semis, before playing a nail-biter against New Zealand in the finals, which they won on the basis of boundaries.
Jos Buttler, who played an instrumental figure in England’s maiden World Cup haul, revealed that he would have stopped playing cricket if his side had failed to win the showpiece event.
“What was scaring me was if we lost, I didn’t know how I’d play cricket again. This was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a World Cup final at Lord’s. It felt like destiny and I was thinking: ‘If it doesn’t happen, I will have no motivation to pick up a cricket bat for a very long time,'” Buttler said during an interaction with Daily Mail.
Speaking about England’s must-win encounter against India, the 28-year-old said that he was worried about the outcome as fans expected them to lift the World Cup. However, a loss against India would have dented the hopes and Buttler stated that he would have been unable to cope up with the ridicule following their team’s exit.
“Before the India game, I was struggling with coming to terms with the prospect of us getting knocked out. We’d been favourites, so highly fancied by everyone, and there was the danger that four years of playing such good cricket was going to come to nothing,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
“Think about what people will say about us as a team, think about how they will call us chokers, everything else they will say. I remember seeing a comment — maybe it was the one that got Jonny Bairstow wound up — about how it would be the biggest failure because of how much had gone into this World Cup. I was struggling with the thought of that.”
Buttler also lamented about reaching eight finals and ending up as runners-up. He said watching the opposition lift the trophy is always painful and he didn’t want to experience it again.
“I had played in eight finals before Sunday and lost seven of them. I’d played in lots with Somerset, the Champions Trophy with England and when we lost the T20 in Kolkata and I knew how much it hurt watching the other team lift the trophy. I didn’t want to feel that pain and that regret again.”
Chasing a challenging 242 in the finals against New Zealand, the hosts were reduced to 86/4. However, Buttler along with Ben Stokes rescued their side from danger and added 110 runs for the fifth wicket.
However, the duo couldn’t take England home in the regulation 50 overs as both the side ended on level terms, pushing the match into SuperOvers. During the final ball of the SuperOver with Kiwis requiring two more to win, Buttler executed a run-out before Guptill could complete the double.
Speaking on the run-out, Guptill said, “You’re on autopilot really. I felt very in-the-moment. Guptill pushed it off his legs and once I saw it going straight to Jason, I thought: ‘If we get this right, we can win this’. I knew Guptill would be a long way out. Under pressure, nothing is simple but I knew it should be simple.”
“When Jason picked it up, there was no thought he might misfield it. None of those thoughts happen. He picks it up, throws it to me and I take the stumps. I had to come down the pitch a little bit but I knew that as long as I collected the ball cleanly, I would have time to get to the stumps because he was a long way out. Lord’s is like a billiards table, so you know the bounce is going to be true. You know where the ball will end up. If I knew Guptill was going to be closer, I may have been more anxious or rushed it, but I knew I had some time to play with, so it was just as simple as making sure I got it in my hands.”
“I knew in the moment I broke the wicket, that was it. Both gloves went, I threw my hat in the air. I was running around and Moeen Ali was aeroplaning past me and Jofra was on the floor miles away. Those feelings justify everything. That moment lasts for 20 seconds, maybe, and it is just the best time of your cricket career.”
Speaking on the encounter, Buttler said, ” I didn’t cry after the game. I thought I would, but it wasn’t until the next day. I watched the highlights and I was overwhelmed with what we had achieved. It justifies everything you have worked for, all the sacrifice, the sacrifice of family and friends, every gym session, every net session you didn’t want to do. It justifies everything.”
Buttler also said that he felt sorry for the Black Caps but England winning the World Cup was “written in the stars.”
“I did feel sorry for the New Zealanders but at the same time I was so happy that wasn’t us. It was written in the stars. It was destiny for us as a team. I talked to Moeen about this: he said we were meant to struggle. It wasn’t meant to be easy before the India game. We talked about how enjoyable it would be when you have to struggle for it and fight for it.We had played in lots of series where we have blasted big scores and dominated in that way, and that is enjoyable, but to come through adversity and hardship feels even more special. That gives you so much faith that good things can happen.”
“I was talking to David Young (England’s team psychologist) about how if we win, I wouldn’t care what happens in the rest of my career. That victory would be there forever and I feel it would justify everything I have ever wanted for the team and for myself.”