Matt Potts set for ODI debut as Mott pleads for patience with Buttler | England cricket team

England will hand Matt Potts an ODI debut and recall Adil Rashid at the earliest opportunity amid an insistence from their white-ball head coach, Matthew Mott, that it is too soon to make strong judgments on Jos Buttler’s captaincy.

A congested schedule means a sharp turnaround for Buttler’s men, with Tuesday’sfirst ODI against South Africa in Durham – a day-nighter set to be played in 37-degree heat – coming just 48 hours after their five-wicket defeat to India at Old Trafford.

It means Reece Topley, who shone with nine wickets during the 2-1 ODI series loss but has a history of injury and did not bowl his full allocation on Sunday, will take a breather and open up a slot for Potts to win a first white-ball cap on his home ground.

The 23-year-old right-armer was initially viewed as a limited overs prospect, only for stellar early season County Championship form with Durham and injuries elsewhere to see him fast-tracked into the Test setup and whistle up 18 wickets in his first four outings. Mott, needless to say, is keen to have a look at him.

“[Potts] comes in at a great time for us,” said Mott. “He’s been around the group the last couple of days, he’s got great energy and I’m sure he’ll let rip and give us the injection that’s needed after some big days of travel and play. Fresh legs will be great.”

Rashid meanwhile is back after being granted leave to undertake the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. No bowler boasts more than the Yorkshireman’s 159 ODI wickets since the 2015 World Cup and Mott admitted his threat was “definitely” missed when Rishabh Pant was laying waste to England’s attack with his maiden ODI century on Sunday.

“We fully respect the reasons why [Rashid] wasn’t here and I think it’s great he’s made that journey,” said Mott. “But we’ll definitely welcome him back with open arms. It will have freshened him up nicely as well.”

Mott is just five weeks into his role as England’s white-ball head coach and already working with his second captain, with Eoin Morgan’s retirement after the 3-0 win in the Netherlands last month coming as a surprise to the Australian.

England captain Jos Buttler (right) and teammates react after the third ODI between England and India at Old Trafford
Jos Buttler (right) has had a tough start to life as England’s limited-overs captain. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Buttler admitted on Sunday he needs “time and patience” to get used to the full-time promotion and though 2-1 series defeats to India in both the T20s and ODIs represent a suboptimal start, Mott views his battling 80-ball 60 at Old Trafford – one which gave his bowlers a chance after the top order struggles continued – as a promising sign.

Mott said: “I think his leadership has been a baptism of fire. I thought it was a gutsy knock [on Sunday] – a real captain’s innings. He was hit in the head a couple of times, he’d have been shaken up, but he showed a lot out there.

“Jos brings a nice calmness. He’s a hugely empathetic person. He won’t be someone who stands up and makes big speeches, he’ll do it in his own quiet way, one-on-one, working out what makes players tick. And he’s an amazing player – that helps.”

Asked if Morgan’s shadow looms large over Buttler from his new seat in the commentary box, Mott replied: “There’s no doubt his legacy is huge, his leadership is renowned. But at the start it wasn’t like that. He had his early struggles when the team wasn’t firing as well. You get judged at the end of your tenure, not the start.

“[Morgan] developed that experience over six or seven years, making a few mistakes, learning, getting better. We know we’ve been off in a couple of departments and India made us pay heavily.

“I felt lucky Eoin went on that first trip to Holland – he showed me the ropes, how the team ticks. He’ll be a great sounding board for both Jos and myself about what he’s seen from the outside. He clearly loves the team. Now he’s on the other side of the fence, he has a really good perspective and will give us some good feedback.”

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England meet South Africa for the first time since pulling out of a three-match ODI series in Cape Town in late 2020 due to anxiety over Covid-19 breaching the biosecure hotel. The Proteas lost their first warm-up match on this all-format tour when England Lions chased down 319 in just 37.1 overs but found form in the second, Heinrich Klaasen’s 85-ball 123 sticking 360 for seven on the board for 107-run win.

An injury to Temba Bavuma sees spinner Keshav Maharaj captain their ODI side, while attack leader Kagiso Rabada is sitting out this initial series of this tour to target the Twenty20 leg led by David Miller, and the three-match Test series under Dean Elgar.

England will, however, face the pace of Anrich Nortje straight away and a varied attack that represents a stiff challenge for a top order yet to truly fire this summer.

England (possible): Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (c & wk), Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, David Willey, Brydon Carse, Adil Rashid, Matt Potts

South Africa (possible): Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj (c), Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi

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