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Don't Know How I Would Have Played Cricket Again Had We Lost WC Final: Buttler

Cricketnext Staff |July 21, 2019, 7:24 PM IST
Don't Know How I Would Have Played Cricket Again Had We Lost WC Final: Buttler

England stuttered midway through the 2019 World Cup and were almost knocked out of the tournament before they beat India, New Zealand (twice) and Australia to win their maiden 50-over ICC event. But what if England would have lost to India in the group stage and not even qualified for the semi-finals?

Jos Buttler played a key role in the final against the Black Caps but the English wicketkeeper-batsman can't stop himself from thinking where he would have found a rock to crawl under if everything wouldn't have gone in England's favour. The 28-year-old felt he would have never played this game again if his team would have lost.

"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," he told Daily Mail.

"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.

"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.

"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'.

Chasing 242 in the final, England were reduced to 86 for 4 before Buttler added 110 runs with Ben Stokes. When the encounter went down to the final delivery of the super over with New Zealand needing two runs, it was Buttler who gathered Jason Roy's throw from the deep and broke the stumps before Martin Guptill could make his ground.

"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.

"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 said he felt sorry for the Kiwis 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."

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2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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1 England 6745 125
2 India 6939 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
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