Jos Buttler's 47 not out off just 16 balls was pivotal in setting up England's 34-run win over NZ on Wednesday. (AP Photo)
Nottingham: Alastair Cook forecast Jos Buttler's decisive innings against New Zealand at Trent Bridge would be the first of many occasions the talented shotmaker swung a match England's way.
The 22-year-old Somerset wicketkeeper/batsman was outscored by England team-mates Ian Bell (82) and Eoin Morgan (49) in Wednesday's day/night clash. But it was Buttler's 47 not out off just 16 balls that was pivotal in setting up a 34-run win in the third one-day international, albeit New Zealand took the series 2-1.
What stood out, apart from Buttler's sheer speed of scoring, was the improvised scoop and reverse scoop shots that testified to a fantastic eye and a healthy disregard for the coaching manual. Thanks to Buttler, England were able to post a competitive 287 for 6 before bowling out New Zealand for 253.
"It's not going to happen every single time, we know that, but it's great to have that talent, the potential and the firepower to do that," said England captain Cook, out for nought on Wednesday, of Buttler's innings. "We've seen him do it a number of times for Somerset and we're going to see him do it a lot more for England. It's a special talent and a talent he's worked very hard on. It's great credit to him because it's a skill that needs to be practised," the left-handed opener added.
Buttler averages a modest 16.83 from his seven one-day international innings to date and there are bound to be those who remain to be convinced he is more than a 'novelty act'. But Wednesday's Man-of-the-Match-winning innings would have gone some way to convincing the doubters.
"I haven't quite performed as I would have wanted in the one-dayers, so it was great to put in a performance like that," Buttler said. "I'm confident in my own ability and it was great to come in and show that."
More good news for England, ahead of their opening match against arch-rivals Australia in the Champions Trophy ODI tournament at Edgbaston on Saturday, was the return of Stuart Broad and Steven Finn. Both seamers missed the first two matches of the New Zealand series through injury but they took two wickets each at Trent Bridge. Cook was cautiously optimistic about their fitness, saying: "We'll have a look tomorrow [Thursday] at those things but it's great they got through the game without ill effects."
For New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, the disappointment of defeat was offset by a series win that followed a 2-0 whitewash by England in the preceding Test campaign. "It's disappointing that we didn't get the result because if we strip back that game, we were excellent for probably 90 percent of it," he said. "I thought we were good for the majority of the day but Jos Buttler's innings was world class and to concede 76 off four overs at the end - you've got to acknowledge some excellent batting."
New Zealand begin their Champions Trophy quest against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Sunday. And opener Martin Guptill, Man of the Series against England after scoring 330 runs with two centuries - including a New Zealand record 189 not out at Southampton on Sunday, said the Black Caps would travel to Wales in positive mood. "Today didn't go quite as planned but we're happy with the series win. It gives us a bit of confidence and momentum ahead of the Champions Trophy, which we're looking forward to," he said.