Jos Buttler admits Chris Woakes concern ahead of key South Africa test at World Cup

England bowler has struggled badly in Indian conditions at ODI tournament

England captain Jos Buttler, left, speaks with Chris Woakes during a nets session at Wankhede Stadium on October 19, 2023 in Mumbai. Getty
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England captain Jos Buttler admits the performances of Chris Woakes in India have been a "frustration" for both him and the bowler.

Buttler's side face a vital World Cup clash against South Africa in Mumbai on Saturday with the defence of their ODI crown in deep trouble after a shock defeat by Afghanistan left them with just one win from their opening three games.

At the heart of their struggles has been misfiring new ball bowler Woakes, who has taken just two wickets so far at a costly average of 67.5.

The 34-year-old seam bowling all-rounder has found the Indian pitches a real struggle and went wicketless during that shock 69-run loss to Afghanistan in Delhi last Sunday.

Speaking ahead of their clash with the Proteas, Buttler said of Woakes: "He's been a fantastic performer for an incredibly long time for England in all the formats and especially in one-day cricket.

"And we're all honest guys, right? We're all honest professionals who hold each other to high standards and individually expect a lot of ourselves. He knows he's not performing quite how he would like to at the minute and that's frustrating."

With Ben Stokes confirming his fitness for the first time since arriving in India having been sidelined by a hip problem, someone will have to make way.

However, Buttler insisted no decision has been made regards Woakes, who has played 117 ODI internationals for his country.

"We always back all our players that are in our team," said Buttler. "We picked them for a number of reasons and one because they're high-class players and he (Woakes) is certainly one of those."

The England captain admitted he was delighted to have Stokes available and said he believes conditions at the Wankhede Stadium will suit his side.

Opponents South Africa are also coming off a shock defeat, having been upset by the Netherlands in Dharamsala on Tuesday.

"Ben trained really well last night. It's great to see him back," said Buttler.

"He obviously brings a lot on the field and with his presence and leadership skills as well as someone who is always good to turn to."

He added: "It is a fantastic cricket wicket [in Mumbai], so it should suit us. We want to find ways to make a play and put the opposition under pressure. That doesn’t always mean hitting fours and sixes. It means can we push back when the opposition is on top and take the initiative in different ways.

"We know we won’t always win but if we can stick to the way we like to play cricket and get the best version of that, we know that is the best chance we have of getting a positive result."

Updated: October 20, 2023, 4:32 PM