Jos Buttler bends backwards while playing a shot
Michael Egerton / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Talking Cricket

Jos Buttler: 'I have lived true to what we're trying to do as a team by being really aggressive'

England's white-ball captain talks about how he approaches the game in his 30s, his scoop shot, and his favourite ODI hundreds

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi  |  

Being brutally honest with himself, especially when he is doing well, has, Jos Buttler says, helped him grow as a batter. A white-ball great, Buttler is one of the most amazing power-hitters in business, capable of scooping a 156kph delivery calmly.

That calm was evident at the time of this interview, during the 2023 IPL in Jaipur, home base of Rajasthan Royals, the franchise Buttler has played for since 2018. This was the second time I interviewed Buttler, the first being when he made his IPL debut, playing for Mumbai Indians. Back then Buttler said his game was to win games on his own. Seven years on, he is a two-time World Cup winner, one of the most feared batters in the world, who can accelerate with a cunning that bowlers and team think tanks struggle to combat.

Here, Buttler speaks insightfully about his batting and the mechanics of some of his strokes. He opens up on the balance he has found in his life, a by-product of spending more time with his family after deciding to focus solely on white-ball formats. It has given him more energy, Buttler says. He also talks about being England captain, which has allowed him to learn that being different is okay as long you are pursuing the best version of yourself.

You seem to be enjoying life - scoring runs for fun, travelling with your family. You recently celebrated your daughter Gigi's birthday with your Rajasthan Royals team-mates. Does this kind of relaxed way of life help you express yourself with freedom on the field?
I am a bit different off the field to how my play is on it. I like to attack and try and be aggressive on the field, [but] maybe a bit more reserved off it. But certainly travelling with the family is a huge part. We live a very selfish life in cricket. [Our families] sacrifice a lot for us to live out our dreams, and having a young family is a big challenge, but it's great to be able to travel and enjoy it with them. It's about always remembering that cricket is very much just a part of your life. It's not the be-all and end-all.

These little things - in the long run, they matter a lot, don't they?
Your child's birthday or milestones like that are not small things. They are huge parts of your life, your family's life, your children's life. And as a dad, as a husband, you want to be as present as you can be. There's certain times where that privilege is taken away from you because of your job, and we are lucky to do what we do, of course, but there's things that you miss out on all the time.

"I'm just thinking about how I can get ahead of the opposition, as opposed to technique"

For me, balance is really important. Certainly, getting into your 30s, you sort of realise that cricket isn't going to be around as long as maybe when you were in your early 20s. Do well at cricket, put everything into it, but also enjoy the time off the field and try and be present for people who need you there when you can be.

After taking over the white-ball captaincy, you admitted in an interview that you were probably not at your best in Test cricket. Would you say being honest with yourself is one of your biggest strengths?
When I'm at my best, absolutely. I'd be very honest with myself and with other people as well. Sometimes now I know when I'm sort of failing myself a little bit. I definitely try and live that - [having] very honest reflections with yourself and where you are at with your own game and how you are performing or how you are feeling mentally. The most important thing for me in the last few years is being honest with your thoughts. It's more about the mindset, how you are feeling on the field, off the field, and being brutally honest with yourself and the people around you. It helps, I think, massively, whether it's with performance or happiness and stuff. So definitely, when I'm at my best, I'm very honest with myself.

I have always been more consistent in white-ball cricket even when I was playing Test cricket. It's the game I'm better at, probably. But yeah, not being involved with the Test team has certainly given me a lot of focus in my white-ball cricket. And becoming a captain in that format, it's important to be fully focused on that. I'd love to play all three formats. For me, to be one of the best players in the world means you have to have success over a long period in all three formats.

It didn't happen as much as I would have liked. I had my moments, I had some good times, but certainly, over the last few years, my game has just improved in white-ball cricket regardless of the Test stuff. I have enjoyed the times apart from cricket as much as I have enjoyed the cricket.

England fast bowler Mark Wood spoke on a podcast about how you have perspective in life. Is that another strength - looking at the broader picture?
Just because you can have a bit of a broader view, a more worldly view, doesn't mean you care any less. Sometimes people's perception is that if you are focused on other things or you are looking elsewhere, then you are not giving everything to your craft. But I think you can do both and just realise where cricket fits in. That's a way I deal with success and failure sometimes. When you turn on the news, cricket's not really front and centre all the time, is it?

It is in our lives, obviously, but it just gives you a bit of perspective on the rest of the world. It helps me, but I understand that for other people, it may be different. You might need to be more single-minded.

Buttler with his wife and daughters after winning the 2022 T20 World Cup in Melbourne

Buttler with his wife and daughters after winning the 2022 T20 World Cup in Melbourne Daniel Pockett / © ICC/Getty Images

That's another learning I have had over the last few years: it's okay to be different. Different things make different people tick and we are all trying to work out the best version that gives you the best chance of performing. Especially as a captain, you have to understand the different ways people look at things and how can you help and be open-minded.

Let's talk about your batting technique. Do you still take a middle-stump guard?
As a kid I always took middle-stump guard, not for any particular reason. For a while in Test cricket, I tried moving across middle and off stump, just to help me know where I was. It worked for a while.

I wouldn't say I have a great understanding of the game technically. I probably have a good understanding of some things that work for me and feel nice for me, but in terms of video analysis and watching myself bat to look at a technical thing, I have rarely done that over the last year or so.

For me, it's all about understanding what the game requires of me. I feel I understand things best through game play, in practice: you have to hit the ball here or you can only hit the ball in this position. That would alter something technically because you are trying to place the ball somewhere as opposed to trying something with your feet, doing this with your hands. I almost work backwards from the end result. I'm just thinking about how I can get ahead of the opposition, as opposed to technique.

Batters have their routines and idiosyncrasies. You tend to wiggle your front shoulder. What happens if you don't do that?
Probably nothing. It actually came from my work with a coach. He stood me facing down the wicket and said: "You've got to relax, have less tension, relax your top hand or just shake your shoulders." I only did one session with him, but ever since then, it's sort of come in. It's probably one of those things that just makes you feel good. When I run onto the field, I kind of do the same thing, and when I scratch my mark, I do it in the same way. It's more of a relaxation point that's built in now. A bit like [the way I take my stance against] spinners - pronounced knee bend that over the years has just got bigger and bigger for no particular reason. It just feels right.

"A lot of batting, in my opinion, is weighing up and managing risk and what gives you the highest reward for the least amount of risk"

How many bats do you carry and how much do they weigh?
Usually about six. My bats probably weigh about 2.8-2.9 pounds each. Some bats might weigh the same, but they pick up differently. Sometimes you pick up a bat that feels light and when you weigh it, it's heavier. Balance and pick-up are really important with your bats, and just feeling comfortable.

Another thing that is part of your routine is lining up the off stump at the non-striker's end. How does that help you?
It's an awareness thing. I'm a very right-sided person. I hold the bat right-handed and I'm quite right-eye dominant, so it's just a checkpoint of making sure my head is around and looking maybe even a bit past where the ball will come from. I can come back to that point [of reference]. In the past I have had a sensation as if I can't see the ball. I think that comes if my right eye isn't quite far around enough because when the ball was released then I had to move [my eyes] to look for it and then obviously it's too late in terms of timing. So it's a checkpoint to make sure my head's far enough around to start with.

In a newspaper column, you wrote about "anchoring". Can you talk about that?
That's more of a visualisation thing. Anchoring is a technique to remind you of a feeling, like when you are doing something well, it is like a reference point - it takes you back to that point or a feeling. That's massive in all sport.

Do you use it when you are under pressure?
Under pressure and [when] not under pressure. It is trying to control as much as you can your own space and your mindset for each ball. Sometimes you make a mistake and get away with it and you think, let's try and get back to that place. So you use it then.

It's the same for the message I write on the top of my bat, which is again a mental reference point. There's a little bit of an ebb and flow sometimes through your innings and [anchors] are just different reference points that can maybe restart your system.

What do you focus on in your fitness?
I have always focused more on the power side naturally than a long-distance-runner kind of thing. Now being a little bit older, and having picked up a couple of niggles, I do very specific power exercises - squat jumps and using the medicine ball to do rotation drills. A lot of jumping, really, something where there's no break, so you are just trying to do lot of maximal-force kind of things. Then a lot of sprint work and trying to be specific to the job I do.

Buttler picked his 83-ball 100 not out against Australia in Sydney in 2018 as one of his favourite ODI centuries

Buttler picked his 83-ball 100 not out against Australia in Sydney in 2018 as one of his favourite ODI centuries Brook Mitchell / © Getty Images

Are you and Ben Stokes still the fastest runners in the England squad?
No, we are a bit older than we were. That was [based on] a 2k time trial, but now, for me, it is about five- and ten-metre sprints, being able to run two quickly. In the IPL, I'm fielding [in the outfield], so I need to do some longer sprints, but usually, as a wicketkeeper, agility and diving, and maybe from the base of the stumps, sprinting two metres to pick up the ball - just being a bit more specific. I very rarely do long running now.

You are among the top two or three power-hitters in the world, but your batting is so easy on the eye. There is nothing abrupt in your batting - you are composed. How does that work?
There's a certain technique to power-hitting, which is individual to everyone. I massively rely on my hands, my base. But I think [for] power-hitting, you need to try and get to the same level as you would for normal batting.

Say, you are facing a ball in a Test match and someone bowls a wide half-volley. You are not thinking about it, you just play the shot automatically. Someone bowls a bouncer, you might duck or pull, so you are not thinking about that. The same with power-hitting - you obviously need to smack it, but don't get caught up in "I'm going to hit this over the sight screen or over square leg". Be very calm and just react to wherever the ball is bowled. A bowler might bowl a yorker, a slower ball, a bouncer or wide yorker; try not to get caught up in too many preconceived ideas. That's one of those things of being calm and reacting: if the ball is in my area, I'll hit it.

Is it fair to say that the scoop is your signature shot?
It's fair to say it's a huge part of my game. And sometimes you don't even have to play it to reap the benefits of it. That's why it was such a huge part of any batsman's armoury. If you can play that shot, either a bowler has to cut it off or they leave that option open. You are going to get out doing it sometimes and that's fine. I have got out a few times doing it, but got out hundreds of times playing a forward defence and no one said to put that away!

You have spoken about the scoop being a purely premeditated stroke. But at the same time there's a lot of mechanics involved. You once said that if you are good at holding a frying pan, you can play the scoop. Is it really that easy?
Ah, it's a similar kind of thing, yeah. I suppose in terms of a technical cricket shot, it's more about your bravery and being committed. You are not really moving the bat much. That's probably when you get into trouble - with too much movement. But if you are basically trying to lay the bat in position and letting the ball hit the bat, and if there's no big swing and massive timing issues, it's a less-is-more kind of thing, especially if the pace is on the ball - you are just trying to redirect it. It's more subtle movements. Having the commitment is the biggest thing. If you are not committed to the shot, there's very little chance it will come off.

If the pace is on the ball, that obviously is going to help you. You are still trying to hit a good part of your bat, but you are not really taking much pace off the ball because you are not meeting it or trying to redirect it that much. You are trying to help it in the direction that it's already going in.

"Sometimes people's perception is that if you are focused on other things or you are looking elsewhere, then you are not giving everything to your craft. But I think you can do both and just realise where cricket fits in"

In the 2020 IPL, you hit Anrich Nortje for two sixes using that lap scoop. The first delivery was 146kph, the second was 156kph. What was going through your mind?
The shot was on. You get a feeling of the area the bowler might bowl at. The short fine leg was inside the circle, so I felt like there was good value in the shot, it's worth a risk. When someone is bowling at high pace, as Nortje can, it can aid you in that shot. There's that element of bravery to do it, but you know the pace is going to be there on the ball, so you don't have to do too much to lift it over the 45.

A lot of batting, in my opinion, is weighing up and managing risk and what gives you the highest reward for the least amount of risk. At times I feel like that shot, especially in that kind of situation, is giving me huge value for my perceived level of risk not being that high.

But you don't know the length he's coming at. Do you shape to play the shot regardless of where it's pitched?
A lot of it is playing on probability and having a calculated guess as to where they might bowl. One of the reasons I try and play the shot as I do is to hopefully give me the opportunity to be able to play this shot to different lengths. If I was getting down on one knee, I feel like I'd need the ball to be full the majority of the time. Worrying about the length isn't actually important in considering things for the shot.

And the field doesn't matter, whether fine leg is in or not?
Obviously if he's [fine leg] in, it is a different kind of shot. Sometimes it's on the angle where he is. You are looking at gaps in the field, aren't you? And between third man and fine leg is a huge gap. So if you can lift it just over the wicketkeeper, if there's pace on the ball, it's going to beat the fine leg to his right, there's value in the shot. So even if he's [standing] back, there might still be a big enough gap for me to feel like I could get it fine enough of him for it to still hold value.

Is that a release shot?
Yeah, it can be a release [shot]. It can be trying to get ahead of something [when you are] under pressure or to put pressure on [the bowler].

"In terms of a technical cricket shot, the scoop is more about your bravery and being committed. You are not really moving the bat much" Christiaan Kotze / © AFP/Getty Images

Do you ever make the mistake of playing the bowler instead of the ball?
Lots of times. Lot of Test cricket, probably (chuckles). Sometimes spin. It's natural. Sometimes [you] play reputations and people's reputations help them. It helps them score more runs because people expect them to score, or it helps them take wickets because people are affected by what they have done in the past. But it's okay to make mistakes as long as you can recognise and learn from them. Even the best bowlers in the world, or some people you don't like facing, still bowl bad balls, so it's trying to be in a mindset that if they do, I can put it away as opposed to playing it too safe against them.

What have you picked up from sports like baseball and golf?
I haven't taken anything from those sports, really. It's like hitting is a thing in cricket now - people think it's come from somewhere else. In T20 cricket, being able to hit [comes from] practising it. I always feel like I'm practising cricket, I'm not really taking it from anywhere else, I'm just improving my cricket shots as opposed to… obviously there's natural crossovers, but it's not like any particular sport has ownership over that particular movement. Power-hitting is part of cricket just as it's part of baseball or the swing of a golf club - it is not exclusive to those games, it's allowed to drift across games.

You were a tennis champion as a teenager. Have the tennis skills come in handy?
I just liked all sports as a kid, and I like trying every different game: football, rugby, tennis. That's a really healthy way for kids to learn and grow. There's so many crossovers in sport and hand-eye coordination, or the way you move or the way you hit the ball - you can drift across sports massively. In my opinion, the more you play different things and don't specialise too early, it is a good thing. But I also understand that some people don't enjoy the other games as much and just focus on one. But yes, all sports have had a good effect on me.

What advantage does your bent-knee stance against spin give you?
I used to have a forward press. I used to try and press and then play. I noticed I was making two or three movements when I only wanted to make one, so I was trying to stand still, but I thought I need to do something because I'm used to moving. So I just started bending my knees, going up and down, and then I would play without realising I don't have that touch movement. I remember watching Kevin Pietersen do that, so maybe that's why I thought, "Oh, that might work."

Bluffing is an important asset in a bowler's arsenal. Can you talk about picking up the slower delivery? One example of it was during your first T20I hundred, against Lahiru Kumara in the 2021 T20 World Cup. Do you remember that final delivery of the 15th over - 61mph - that you lofted for a straight six?
It is a lot about your preparation and knowing the bowlers you are coming up against and what balls they bowl, what slower balls they bowl, what they like to bowl under pressure. Again, it is about not having all your eggs in one basket - you might be looking for something, but you are not taking a position - that's it, it's only going to be a slower ball. I might be looking for a slower ball, but I need to be able to react if they bowl fast. So a lot of times it's sort of noticing change. Noticing something comes from repetition of playing people and banking experience.

"You don't have time to go, 'Oh look, that's a slower ball, let's just slow down and hit it.' Your body naturally does that for you anyway because the power of intelligence of your body is so high"

You might just notice that something looks different, or you might notice that they roll their hand over one side [of the ball]. The body is incredibly intelligent and will do the work for you. You don't have time to go, "Oh look, that's a slower ball, let's just slow down and hit it." Your body naturally does that for you anyway because the power of intelligence of your body is so high. So it is just having that level of trust that you can notice something and then adapt.

Can you list one or two of your favourite T20 innings?
The hundred in Sharjah [at the 2021 T20 World Cup] would definitely be one, especially in those sort of conditions. I found the first half of that inning very tough. I got 94 not out against Mumbai Indians in the 2018 IPL at the Wankhede - that's probably one of the best I have batted. I was in a nice run of form and that was one of those days where things clicked.

At different times you probably enjoy different innings more than others. The semi-final of the [2022] T20 World Cup against India - just a really enjoyable innings, but more so for the occasion in the game and the partnership [with Alex Hales]. But that period in 2018, I felt like I was batting as well as I batted for a while there. And obviously in the 2022 IPL - maybe the hundred against RCB felt like a really good one.

Which format is more challenging - T20 or ODIs?
There are different challenges in each format, and I bat in different positions as well, so I play different styles in each of those formats. The biggest thing about T20, and actually the same for me where I bat in ODIs, [is that] the game asks you to keep taking it on. There's no "Today I'll play it a little bit safe and try and ease my way in." The game asks you to keep being brave, to keep taking risk, take chances and commit and play with risk. Of course, you are trying to mitigate that as much as you can, but sometimes, if you are going through a run of low scores, it's sort of challenging - [you think] you are only on one off three or four balls but now is the time you must take a big risk.

When you are going through low form, you think, "Oh it's early on, I have to take the game on." But that's what T20 demands of you - to just play the game as the game needs you to play it. Throw caution to the wind and not think too much about the end result. It's very easy to get caught up in numbers and so-and-so averages x or has a strike rate of this, but it's more about the game just wanting you to keep being brave, and it rewards you when you do that. So T20s are a good challenge in that sense.

Might Buttler be the one to break AB de Villiers' record for the fastest one-day hundred?

Might Buttler be the one to break AB de Villiers' record for the fastest one-day hundred? Zak Kaczmarek / © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

ODIs are a good challenge in different ways. You may play on surfaces that are different, the game lasts for longer, maybe you have to perform better for longer. But if I had to pick one [that's more challenging], it is T20. In T20, Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7 are really tough and unselfish roles.

You play different roles in both formats, but do you reckon the acceleration part in T20s helps you with your role in the middle order in ODIs?
I'd say it's probably the other way around. Mahela Jayawardene at Mumbai [Indians] gave me the chance to open the innings in T20. His thing was that we know what you can do at the end; you could do that at the start and be on 30 or 40 by the time you normally start your innings. If you can marry the two, you can play for a long time and affect the game over the whole 20 overs as opposed to just in the back half.

And so knowing that, I had this end game from my ODI cricket, and initially T20 cricket - that hitting at the end, or starting my innings in the middle and playing through the middle, actually learning the powerplay batting. If I get through the powerplay, then I'm just back into how I used to sort of play. So I actually feel like it's helped me be a lot more complete having sort of already spent I don't how much time in the middle order playing that role, to then learning the powerplay bit, and then adding that in has been probably the biggest improvement in my game.

Unlike in T20s, where you open, in ODIs your point of entry varies. Since 2020, you have come in to bat in the 20th over 12 times and after the 20th over 11 times. Do you feel comfortable if you walk in early, which allows you to settle down and then accelerate? The sample size is too low, but your average and strike rate when you walk in by the 20th over are 49 and 97. When you arrive around the 30-over mark, you average 86.5 and strike at 203.5.
If I'm coming in before the 20th over, it's probably because we have lost some wickets. The situation is different to coming in after the 30th over, when the end game is closer, so I play in a different style. One of the most important things for all players is to try and be adaptable and have the game to do both. I pride myself on not having to play one way. That's what international cricket demands.

At the IPL, where you are travelling from game to game, you have to assess the conditions, play accordingly, [take into account] different dimensions [of grounds]. There's lots of variables you have to be able to deal with.

The same sort of thing [applies] in ODI cricket. If you are coming in early, it might be because the ball's doing a bit more and we have lost wickets, so maybe we don't take as much risk. If I'm coming in after the 30th over, it might be that we are only two down, and for England we generally [have] quite a long batting order. You can play with high risk straight away and be aggressive. The numbers probably don't tell the full story, but it's important to try and be able to do both.

"If you can play the scoop, either a bowler has to cut it off or they leave that option open"

In the 52 years since men's ODIs were first played, 13 centuries have been scored in 50 balls or fewer. You have scored three of them. How proud are you of that?
The pride comes from ringing true to what we want to be as a team and what changed for us after 2015 - trying to push the boundaries to see what we are capable of; always being too positive than too negative. So what that means to me is, I have lived true to what we were trying to do as a team by being really aggressive and trying to not set any boundaries or any limitations.

And [I have] played in an unbelievable team there for a while and we have pushed the envelope as far as we can. It just means I was doing my bit. If you look at all of us who are in that team, strike rates are high, the way we play for the team is the most important thing, and we have hit some really high scores. We must hold the record for the highest ODI total and probably did that two or three times in that period [England currently have the top three highest men's ODI totals]. So it means that I was doing what we set out to do as a team. I didn't know the stat you told me, but just knowing what we believed as a team and just committing to it.

Do you reckon you could aim for AB de Villiers' 31-ball record for the fastest ODI century?
I will try and go for it, yeah. [But] I think it's a pretty impossible task - 31 balls, it's not many, is it? My fastest is 46 balls, so to shave off 15 is a lot. I thought I was going at a good pace then! I think his record's quite safe.

How has ODI cricket changed since your debut?
T20 has affected ODIs and Tests. There are more shots. People are understanding that, okay, I can play this shot to a high level of consistency without getting out.

ODI cricket is interesting, isn't it? Like there's been one ball used for a while, then there was that mandatory ball change. Now they have two new balls at each end, we have batting powerplays that you take at certain points, an extra fielder in the circle. The biggest change, I'd say, is that period of up until 40 overs [from 11 to 40 overs], you can only have four fielders outside [the 30-yard circle].

"As captain you are trying to set something out for the group. Being authentic and true to yourself is a big part of that. And the team can see if you are not being that" Dan Mullan / © Getty Images

That changes the way people have to bowl and you have to bat. Instead of your death overs being 40 to 50 [where the fielding team can have five fielders outside the circle], why don't you do it 30 to 40, where the fielding team has less fielders outside? It makes it hard for captains as well. [It is also difficult for] spinners, because batters always have an option, with reverse sweeps and sweeps and hitting over the top. It always seems like there's somewhere in the ground that you can score a boundary if you want to take a risk.

One striking part of your white-ball batting is the dot-ball percentage: since 2020, you have had 36% dot balls in all T20s while striking at 145. That figure climbs to 43% in ODIs. Is this part of your method or does it add pressure on you - in that you think that in case you fail, it will hurt the team?
Is that low or high?

It's high.
I'm always trying to score runs. Maybe because in the powerplay, you face more dot balls than you would do outside the powerplay. So that may have changed that number. I'm thinking a lot about productivity - can I score if someone bowls a great ball, can I get a run? If someone bowls a bad ball, do I hit it for six instead of a four? I don't want to face dot balls. I want to try and score off every ball.

Last year in the IPL, after you scored your fourth century of the season, you said that Kumar Sangakkara, the Rajasthan Royals' director of cricket, had told you to take your time, that you don't need to always rush off the blocks.
That's more about when the pressure comes, sort of realising you can take it for one over more before you need to take a risk. Also, last year, the ball seemed to swing a bit at the start, so we thought I'll wait a bit, try and take less risk at this point and then catch up later. But in an ideal world, I'd never do that. I'd always go off fast and try and play fast. It's so easy to look at numbers and say someone has a trend of doing this. What if the ball was swinging around corners and then he caught up? Or he was just blocking straight deliveries where he could have been really aggressive? That's more the things I'm interested in about playing the game.

Again, that's how I talked about being adaptable. If one day the game requires you to be 25 off ten balls, can you do that? And on another day, if the game requires you to hang in when it's tough and then catch up, are you capable of doing that? I don't like wasting deliveries. That's one thing I don't like about cricket - if you had no intention to score a run or you were just blocking deliveries for the sake of it when you could have actually scored off them. As long as my mindset is good, I'm trying to score runs, I'm more happy with that.

Being positive - would you say that is the backbone of your batting?
Yeah, absolutely. I have played long enough now to show that I generally play that way. You look at the strike rates or those kind of things, I'm usually pretty positive.

"The biggest thing about T20 is that the game asks you to keep taking it on. There's no 'Today I'll play it a little bit safe and try and ease my way in.' The game asks you to keep being brave, to keep taking risk"

The message on your bat handle - F*** It - symbolises your approach. In a newspaper column, you explained it: "It's just a little reminder that I am doing what I love, so if I am ever questioning myself or I am a bit worried or under pressure, it just gives me this huge sense of perspective and reminds me to get back to my best state. It stops me thinking: shall I play this shot or not? And it helps me to commit 100%, which is exactly the mental state you want to be in when the ball is flying towards you at 90mph." Does that state of mind change, now that you are England's white-ball captain?
No, not at all. It's actually probably even easier to live true to that because as captain you are trying to set something out for the group. Being authentic and true to yourself is a big part of that. And the team can see if you are not being that. They are smart people, they know who you are. If you change from those kind of things, then there's a contradiction of your method and your message. So as captain, it's probably even easier to go, "This is what I'm about, I'm going to just live this through even more and really commit to that."

Because at the end of the day, well, who am I accountable to? It's me as captain. Reviewing my own performance, [I have to ask], "Did you do what your captain asked you to do?" And then, did I do what the team needed me to do?

In England now we have a blueprint over a long period of time. There's a method in how we play white-ball cricket. Obviously, I have not been captain for all that time, but I have been a member of that team and we have all taken ownership over this. So, absolutely, as captain now, it's about continuing that. And also, are there little bits that we can add as a group that can make us better? Are there any blind spots that we are missing? But as captain it's a bit daunting at the same time. But then you are like, actually I'm only accountable to myself. This is my team and I may as well do it my way and ask people to do it this way.

Is it true that you take notes?
I like to write things down, to just get thoughts out instead of keeping them inside, whether it's talking to someone or putting them down on a piece of paper. I have written down how I'm feeling, any sort of learnings from previous games or stuff.

England are the defending world champions, so you start the men's ODI World Cup as favourites. Via the IPL, many England players have played at most of the venues that will host World Cup games in India. Is that an advantage for England?
It's not an advantage for England because everyone is obviously exposed to that. It's great for us that we have had so many players come and play in the IPL and know what it's like out here. It definitely helps you be prepared.

Which are your favourites from among the ODI centuries you have made?
The 116 in Dubai [vs Pakistan in November 2015] is definitely one of my favourites. And then the hundred I got in Sydney [vs Australia in January 2018]. That was one of the best I have played.

Can you name three or four current white-ball players who you like to watch, and one stroke from each that you would want for yourself?
Quinton de Kock - the way he picks it up off his legs. Rohit Sharma's pull shot. Rishabh Pant's mindset, that fearless [nature]. He's fun to watch.

You have used the word "courage" a lot in your answers. Does that come with experience?
Courage comes from within yourself, and being something you live by, but it can also be set from the top down. Some teams you are a part of or some of the leaders you play under can help the rest of you be courageous. And that takes on many different forms. But if I look at the England team I'm part of, there are three mantras we had: courage, respect and unity. It's always a pillar we tried to live by and that's sent from the very top and filtered down into the rest of the team. It can be encouraged, for sure, even if it's maybe something that comes from within a little bit.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo