Sir Geoffrey Boycott criticised England’s lack of preparation for their continuing World Cup woes but spared captain Jos Buttler of the bulk of the blame.
Buttler accepted his future was out of his own hands as England crashed to an eight-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in Bengaluru, which has left the defence of their title hanging by the thinnest of threads.
Head coach Matthew Mott has written off England’s chances after four defeats in five games, which Boycott argued was the result of turning up in India just over a week before the campaign began.
“History shows that England rarely bat well in India where the ball spins,” Boycott told the Daily Telegraph. “Our guys are okay on flat pitches but if it turns they have a problem.
“The best way to try and overcome that would have been for our squad of players to get to India early and play four or five warm-up matches. What did England do? Plan only two warm-up games with one getting rained off. Not smart planning.”
England brought eight of the 2019 trophy-winning side with them to the subcontinent but Buttler has been unable to get the best out of his charges – as Eoin Morgan spectacularly did four years ago.
But Boycott feels the unflattering comparisons between the duo are unfair, pointing out Morgan had home comforts plus a fully-focused and healthy side in peak form whereas Buttler has had several obstacles to contend with.
Boycott said Jofra Archer’s non-availability and Ben Stokes being ruled out of the first three matches through an ill-timed hip problem complicated matters for Buttler.
“Jos has a dysfunctional squad of players,” the England great added. “Poorly selected, poorly prepared, not a settled team, many not sure of their roles, patchy form, confidence wobbly and to cap it all England’s best two and most influential white-ball players have not been available.
“Although Buttler has admitted his own flaws this tournament, too many people are criticising his captaincy and judging him against that of Eoin Morgan when England won the previous World Cup.
“Make no mistake, not having Archer is huge alongside Stokes not being available through injury for the first three matches. Reece Topley has now had to go home injured.
“It is easy captaining a good team full of in-form players but it would need a miracle man to pull this team together. Buttler can’t admit it, but it must be a nightmare.”