T20 World Cup: England are ‘slowing down’ for opener against Afghanistan, says skipper Buttler

England were beaten by New Zealand in last year’s T20 World Cup semi-final
Date: October 22 Hour: 12pm BST Place: Perth Stadium, Australia
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, special commentary on the BBC Sport website and app; live text commentary clips on the BBC Sport website and app

Captain Jos Buttler says England are “gradually” ahead of their T20 World Cup opener on Saturday.

England’s bid for a second men’s T20 title against Afghanistan kicks off at 12pm in Perth.

Buttler’s side arrive in form after series wins against Pakistan and Australia, although they have selection and injury issues to sort out.

“In the last 10 matches we have had very good matches and played very good cricket,” said Buttler.

“We’re in a good place. Everyone’s hustling to get going now.

“On the eve of the tournament we are very ready.”

The England squad has been hit by an ankle injury to Reece Topley, who was has been excluded from the tournament on wednesday

Buttler said the rest of the squad is available, although there are doubts over the condition of opener Chris Woakes with a quad problem.

“It feels good,” Buttler said. “Obviously he’s a key player for us and not someone you’d take a big risk on.”

An injury to Woakes would be a major concern, with batsman Mark Wood likely to be managed through the tournament as he returns from elbow surgery.

Chris Jordan looks out of sorts as he returns from a hand injury, while Topley’s replacement Tymal Mills has not played since August with a toe problem.

Left-armer David Willey appears to be in line to take Topley’s place in the starting line-up, with England then having to decide their squad balance.

They could take a ‘heavy batting’ approach by picking Moeen Ali, Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone, or pick another bowler which would leave an egg out, probably Brook or Livingstone.

“We have great options,” Buttler, who took over as captain following the retirement of Eoin Morgan in June, told the BBC.

“In any case, we’ve got a lot of balance and batsmen who bowl, all genuine, which is fantastic to have in a T20 team.

“It doesn’t have to maintain a balance in the tournament. We can change it and see how we feel with each opponent and terrain.”

Afghan eye upset after week of shaking

Rashid Khan
Spinner Rashid has taken 118 wickets in 71 T20s with a best of 5-3

The top contenders will go into contention on Saturday after a stunning week full of surprises in the first group stage, which culminated in the shock elimination of the West Indies.

England and Afghanistan are in a group with New Zealand and Australia, who open the Super 12 stage at 8am BST in Sydney on Saturday, along with Sri Lanka and Ireland.

A dangerous Afghanistan side includes superstar leg-spinner Rashid Khan, while being coached by former England batsman Jonathan Trott.

“Any team with Rashid Khan is going to be a very strong team,” Buttler said. “T20 is one of those games that an individual can win on their own in a day.”

Trott replaced another former England batsman, Graham Thorpe, as Afghanistan coach in July. It was Thorpe he became seriously ill in the hospital in may

Trott worked as England’s batting coach and was a teammate of a number of teams during his playing career, but was quick to dismiss any suggestion that he might have any specific information about England’s players.

“The way analysts look at technology these days and things like that, I don’t think there’s much you can say that’s not available,” Trott said.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFoot - Blue