Jos Buttler says England have ‘biggest opportunity’ to capture fans in World Cup summer

Sky Sports columnist Jos Buttler says World Cup favourites England have a great chance to capture new cricket fans this summer – and reveals what it would mean to him to win the tournament…

It is a special feeling to be heading into a home World Cup.

  • Cricket World Cup Team Guide – Part 1
  • Cricket World Cup Team Guide – Part 2

It was fantastic to play at home in the Champions Trophy a couple of years ago in front of huge support but obviously the World Cup will be even more prestigious.

We are all really excited and can’t wait to get going.

People are making us favourites. You’d rather have it that way than not being in the conversation at all and I do think we have a number of advantages.

We know the conditions, we know all the grounds and the fact we are seen as the team to beat shows how well we have played over the last few years.

But the favourite’s tag doesn’t mean too much once the tournament starts. Anyone can beat anyone and anyone can win it which will make it very watchable. I’m sure we will see some incredible moments over the next month or so on the Sky Sports Cricket World Cup channel!

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The mood in our camp is a little bit different to 2015.

Before the previous World Cup there was a change of captaincy and we weren’t getting the results we wanted but a lot of planning has gone into this campaign. Our preparation has been as perfect as it can be.

You can’t look past the captain Eoin Morgan, as well as Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace for giving guys the freedom to play without fear and not to worry about consequences. They have wanted us to be at the forefront of the way the game is going as opposed to playing catch up.

We have also got some excellent players who are playing very well. We now have more experience and our guys have turned into fantastic performers in international cricket.

Now it’s about playing our brand of cricket, something I think is very important.

This summer is the biggest opportunity for cricket in this country for a very long time, possibly ever, to engage with new fans. We want to inspire cricket fans and enhance their love for the game as well as bring new people and children into the fold and encourage them to pick up a bat.

That’s why playing exciting cricket is crucial. We hope to impress people whether they are there inside the grounds or watching us on TV.

I remember doing both 20 years ago when the World Cup was last held in this country and the fact we are at home again has brought back strong memories.

I saw quite a lot of the games live, including India and Sri Lanka at Taunton when Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid score big hundreds. I was also at that crazy semi-final between Australia and South Africa at Edgbaston.

South Africa were out of it, then Lance Klusener, as he had done throughout the tournament, played a key innings to get them back into contention, before that mad end, which is all a bit of a blur.

It’s incredible to think, really, that I have gone from watching as a fan back then to taking part for England in England now.

You don’t often have time in your career to sit down and really digest those things, which is sometimes a blessing in disguise. Your sole focus is on getting better every day and trying to fulfil your dreams and your potential.

But when you do get that opportunity, you reconnect with why you played the game in the first place, for fun and for the love of the game. I’ll be taking that mindset into the World Cup.

I’m sure Jofra Archer will be loving heading into his first World Cup. He is in the dressing room as he comes across on the field – laidback and very confident in his ability. He has fitted in seamlessly.

It was disappointing for David Willey that he missed out but his reaction showed what a great guy he is. He has been a huge part of what we have done over the last few years and is a terrific team man.

I have seen Sky’s #overandout campaign for the World Cup, encouraging people to send in videos of them playing cricket with their mates. That’s exactly how I started.

I started with my brother in the garden and then progressed from there. It’s been great attending events this week and seeing kids playing in the park. It’s been very inspiring for me as a professional.

It still feels like I am just playing with my mates a lot of the time. A lot of us in the England team have grown up playing cricket together and formed very close friendships, which makes the dressing room a very enjoyable place to be.

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