NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day August 27, 2015

Buttler's belief undimmed as he returns to T20 stage

Runs did not flow in the Ashes, but Jos Buttler has dazzled this season in his two T20 outings for Lancashire which have helped the county to another Finals Day

Jos Buttler has admitted it took him time to feel at home with Lancashire but now credits his rise through the England ranks to the move © NatWest

Standing behind a small table, just inside the foyer of the Central Manchester branch of NatWest, is a man in full-length Lancashire-red nylon pyjamas. He's tall for a bank clerk, and his hair is immaculate; he has a certain, quiet, presence, yet, remarkably, a handful of people have approached to ask about mortgages.

But Jos Buttler is too nice to scoff, even if less than a week ago he was standing at The Oval as Alastair Cook lifted the Ashes, a vital cog in the surprise sporting hit of the summer, and enjoying the most fun he has ever had on a cricket field.

He's back up north now, preparing for Lancashire's trip to Edgbaston on Saturday for T20 finals day, where they will play Hampshire in the second semi-final. It is another big stage and a chance, perhaps, for his batting to click back, for although his performances behind the stumps were quietly excellent during the Ashes, his batting, so admired since he first walloped a tennis ball as a little boy in Somerset, faltered - he finished with 122 runs at an average of 15.25.

"I didn't score the runs I'd like to, but that can happen," he says, seemingly sanguine." I guess that's the beauty of being an allrounder.

"I still feel very confident with my batting, and I feel like I've learnt a lot, mentally. I've learnt about the intensity of an Ashes series, the media interest and not getting caught up in that and what it takes to score runs. I've really enjoyed watching Joe Root, who obviously had a fantastic year, 18 months, forever really!

"The biggest thing is, hard as it is, is to worry less. I have to try and look at what can I do as opposed to what people perceive I can't do."

Lancashire know very well what he can do, even though he has only played two T20 games for them all season. He made 71 off 35 balls as Lancashire beat Yorkshire off the last ball at a heaving Headingley in June and hit another half century off Kent in the quarter-final.

Buttler is no stranger to Finals Day. This will be his fifth - he went three times with Somerset (and lost every time) before returning again with Lancashire last summer where Andrew Flintoff narrowly missed carrying them to the title. It was Lancashire's fifth loss in five attempts. With that history, Buttler and Lancashire can hardly be regarded as a lucky combination

But he can't wait.

"It's a great day out. It has become the biggest day of the calendar for the domestic diary, in a way it has taken over from the Lord's finals. It is such a big thing to get to. It's pretty much an international environment, with a huge crowd and partisan support. At the start of the year it's the one every county cricketer pencils in, in the hope that they'll be there."

And then, in the always polite but slightly steely way of a man who knows his own mind, he hints at a frustration with England's domestic format, strongly shared by other players, as Wednesday's PCA survey revealed.

"I think that there is such a big opportunity in England to create a T20 competition that really reaches out to kids and the wider audience who might not necessarily be massive cricket fans but can really get into Twenty20. It is such a great format and if we can have a product that works, especially on the back of this summer which has been so exciting, it could be really a good way of getting kids into the game.

"You know what it's like, when you're that age and you go and watch something with loud music and fireworks and acrobats and cheerleaders and it's a bit of a show and it's not just about the cricket, they'll go home and tell their parents all about it, which is how you get people really involved.

"That innings at Headingley - playing for Lancashire against Yorkshire in a Roses match - gives you an idea of what you can have in English Twenty20, a bit of rivalry, a packed house and a really close game."

Joining Lancashire for the 2014 season was a gamble for Buttler who left his beloved Somerset behind to try and further his career hundreds of miles away in a northern city. The coach who recruited him, Peter Moores, left to join England a few weeks into Buttler's first season, and it was a tough first year. He felt homesick at times, but things have settled down with his girlfriend moving to Manchester and his old England coach Ashley Giles getting the Lancashire job.

"It was great that Ashley got the Lancashire job so I wasn't having to build a new relationship with a new coach from afar. He knows my game from working with me before, which is almost a safety blanket, and makes it a lot easier.

"There are a great group of guys at Lancashire who make you feel very welcome even though I've not been around much this summer. You feel like you want to do really well for the club and your team-mates because you feel like you've missed out and you want to be part of that side.

"It really feels like home now. And now when I finish a match I come back to Manchester, which makes a huge difference, as does the passage of time. I took a leap into the unknown to try and get the rewards of what I really wanted from a cricket career and I guess winning an Ashes series means leaving Somerset has really been justified, which makes you feel a lot more at ease with the decision."

And so he returns to Edgbaston in the scarlet pyjamas on Saturday, more familiar, more confident, and determined to win that prize for Lancashire at last.

Jos Buttler was speaking at the NatWest T20 Blast Trophy Tour ahead of Finals Day. NatWest have supported cricket for over 30 years and are committed to sponsoring T20 cricket from grassroots to the top of the professional game. Find out more at NatWest.com/Cricket

Tanya Aldred is a freelance writer in Manchester

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