Mark Butcher has said England were “horrendous” during their disastrous World Cup loss to Sri Lanka yesterday (October 26) and that Jos Buttler should step aside as 50-over captain at the end of the competition.

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England lost to Sri Lanka by eight wickets in Bengaluru, their third straight loss in the competition. After they were bowled out for 156 having elected to bat first, Sri Lanka chased down the target with 25 overs still left of their innings. It follows England’s back-to-back defeats to Afghanistan and South Africa, with their only win of the tournament so far still their 137-run victory over Bangladesh after their opening loss to New Zealand.

Speaking on the Wisden Cricket World Cup Daily podcast after the defeat, Butcher said: “I don’t know what I’m sadder about actually. The end of what has been undoubtedly England’s greatest-ever one-day international era, or the fact that they could still qualify, because I’m not sure I can take watching much more of that.

“It was possibly the worst defence of a title since Rocky Balboa came up with the head first defence against Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. At least he swung a few punches back… It was horrendous. The got off to the sort of flyer that you’ve come to expect and you settled down into the armchair to watch the first four or five overs and you thought, ‘okay, here we go, they’re batting first – good call,’ Jonny and Malan were stroking it to all parts and it looked like we were back in the old routine again.

“And then a change of pace really, Angelo Mathews and spin coming into the attack and suddenly England are completely and utterly all over the place.”

England’s openers reached 45-o in the first six overs of the powerplay before Dawid Malan was caught behind off Mathews, who was called up to Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad after a shoulder injury ruled Matheesha Pathirana out of the rest of the tournament. Joe Root was then calamitously runout in the tenth over before England slipped to 85-5.

“Today was so bad,” continued Butcher. “It really was and they know it. There’s nobody watching who will be able to come up with any excuse for players of that sort of quality and experience to play in the way that they did. But it was so, so bad.

“I do feel for them all because most of these guys, Jonny Bairstow’s 34, Malan 36, Root 32, Stokes 32. Livingstone at 30 was the youngest bloke in the team. Moeen Ali, 36 – it’s their last hurrah in the white-ball thing and quite a few of them won’t make it to the T20 World Cup either, even though it’s just next year.”

Jos Buttler was out for eight in England’s innings. Having taken over the England white ball captaincy in June 2022, he led England to victory in the T20 World Cup later that year. However, after their disappointing campaign in India, Butcher questioned whether he was the right person to lead England into the next four-year cycle.

“I’m not entirely sure that Jos was the right man to take over from Eoin [Morgan],” said Butcher. “Although, again, you could point to that and go, ‘who else’ at the time and Eoin is an incredibly difficult man to follow in terms of leadership. But it never struck me that it sat particularly well upon his shoulders. He’s not as bullet proof as Eoin was.

“Eoin is not demonstrative in any way and neither is Jos, but Eoin was so singular and single minded, you never got him to backtrack on anything. There’s no way on earth that Eoin would have turned around at the back end of the game against South Africa and said, ‘I think we got selection wrong, I think we got the toss wrong’ and all the rest of it. He would’ve gone, ‘no no, we do it again and if I got the chance I would do it 100 per cent the same thing’.

“To have that same singular vision, that same Terminator-style approach to the format, I don’t think that’s him [Buttler]. It’s not in his make-up and perhaps the captaincy is something that will weigh too heavily on him to be able to give his best as a batter. We’ve spoken about that on many, many England captains but it’s certainly the case here.

Following the World Cup, England’s next assignment is a three-match ODI series before a five-match T20I series in the Caribbean. They then won’t play white-ball international cricket until the start of the English summer, when they will face Pakistan in a four-match T20I series.

“I’m expecting there will be, of the team that played today, maybe Livingstone, and that could be it,” said Butcher of the players he expects to be in the squad for the West Indies. “In terms of the squad you’ve got Atkinson, Curran, Brook, Carse who’s now out there, so those guys will be involved. It will be the likes of Jacks, Salt, Crawley – Crawley captained against Ireland so maybe they’re looking at that. That would be what I would do.

“Jos, by the time this competition is over you say, thank you very much, your service has been excellent, we’ll move on. And maybe if he still has the appetite to be in the team as a player England will say yeah we’ll take that any day… This might be the final straw for him as a captain but maybe not a player. We will see.”