World Twenty20 2012 September 16, 2012

Buttler propelled into the spotlight


Even in the instant world of Twenty20, it takes some believing that a single over can change the mindset of a team, never mind the player involved. But the 32 runs that Jos Buttler took off one over from Wayne Parnell in the final dregs of the English summer has become emblematic for an England squad seeking proof that they have the capacity to win the World Twenty20.

Before his Edgbaston escapade, Buttler was just another skilful young player seeking to justify the faith shown in him. After one brief but violent assault he has instantly become one of the most talked-about players in town. "Which one is Jos Buttler?" is now a contender for the top ten questions in the hotel lobby, proudly ranked alongside other essentials like "is my room ready yet?" and "can you give me some change for the tuk-tuk driver".

For more than a year, Buttler's T20 career was stillborn. He had 10 caps, but in six innings had reached double figures only once. Those who had watched him at Somerset yearned for his ability to overflow. But he got out twice in Dubai to his signature ramp shot and as well as enquiring of the batting coach, he even asked the team psychologist, Mark Bawden, if he should keep playing it. Bawden told him to trust his instincts as sports psychologists tend to do.

Buttler, as he did in the aftermath of Edgbaston, spoke in Colombo of the confidence this has brought him, that he "feels calmer, more myself, more relaxed," that his ability to repay the faith has given him a greater sense of belonging. A few days before the biggest tournament of his life it could not be better timed.

"After the first one I hit, I thought 'this is good fun, I can enjoy this'," he said. "It was just one of those overs: he bowled it where I guessed and it just came off. I'm excited about gaining a bit of recognition or getting noticed. That can only be a good thing; it means you must have done something right for sides to know who you are."

But it is the positive impact that Buttler's innings has made upon the England team that is so striking. England admittedly are defending champions, but they do not play much T20 and have little involvement in IPL. As one of the last sides to arrive in Sri Lanka, they could easily feel like visitors rather than contenders.

Eoin Morgan, who in the absence of Kevin Pietersen is the batsman with IPL-cred, enthused about the wider impact of Buttler's innings. "It was absolutely brilliant," he said. "It gives everyone else around them belief that he can perform at any given time especially when it is to that extremity.

The Pietersen imbroglio, Morgan said, was not a dressing room obsession, but neither was it a banned topic of conversation. "No, it's not like Voldemort, it's alright."

"I've been watching Jos train for nearly a year now, and he's phenomenal. We've all been waiting for this to evolve. The fact it has now is awesome for his own confidence, knowing that he can pull out a performance like that, and it is also great for the team.

"It wasn't easy for him in Dubai where it was reverse swinging, and it was among his first couple of innings. There were a lot of contributing factors to why he didn't have a chance to go out and play the way he could. It is very timely he has now. Like anything, until you go out there and prove to yourself and you know inside you can perform, all the reassuring words run off your shoulders really."

The value of Buttler's assault is even more important if you accept Morgan's assertion that T20 is evolving so quickly that experience is often passed in the reverse manner, from young to old, rather like teenage sons showing fathers how to download an App. Morgan might pass on advice in team meetings about how to keep things simple, but he gets a lot back in return.

"Everyone that comes through, you learn a hell of a lot more from," he said. "You're always a generation behind when you're passing on experience. The way the game's going, people are always bringing in new things."

England play the first of two warm-up games against Australia in Colombo tomorrow, at Nondescripts CC, a club with a name that Buttler need no longer fear sums up his international career. Pakistan follow on Wednesday before Group A matches against Afghanistan on Friday and India two days later.

"I've played Afghanistan before, when I played for Ireland, and have been on a losing side against them, so I won't be taking them for granted at all," Morgan said. "They have a lot of up-and-coming players, and it's a potential banana skin for us. If we don't perform, there's a chance they could sneak over the line."

But survive that and England move to Pallakele for the Super Eights, to face - barring shocks - West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand and with the October monsoon approaching a little unsettled weather might help their cause, if not assist the batsman-friendly tournament for which the ICC must yearn.

"Pallekele is similar to English conditions - it does do a bit," Morgan said. "Research suggests it nips around which I'm not sure will be the most attractive Twenty20 cricket. But there's every chance of these conditions, especially with the rain around - which we're more used to after the summer we've had."

As for Pietersen-watch, he is about to arrive in Sri Lanka as an expert pundit for ESPN Star Sports. "I'd no idea he was coming," Morgan said. "I look forward to seeing it. It could be quite funny."

The Pietersen imbroglio, he said, was not a dressing room obsession, but neither was it a banned topic of conversation. "No, it's not like Voldemort, it's alright," he said.

As Stuart Broad, England's T20 captain, has occasionally been compared to Malfoy, this raises interesting possibilities. Harry Potter fans will tell you that Voldemort gives Malfoy a hug - an awkward, unfeely hug, but a hug nevertheless - in the final edition of Harry Potter. The first time he bumps into Stuart Broad, England's T20 captain, in the hotel lobby could be quite touching.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Geoffrey on September 18, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    @RandyOz- you conveniently skipped the odi whitewash of a certain green and gold arrayed team. Typical. And if number one in two forms of the game and second in the world in tests isn't thriving then I really have no idea what is.

  • Mark on September 18, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    The truth about Jos Buttler is that he is absolute class - in 10 years time I am sure that many of us will look back and say WOW!

  • John on September 18, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    @Andy Plowright on (September 17 2012, 08:23 AM GMT), so that would mean that every middle order batsmen playing in the CB40 has a significantly better average than he deserves. If it's not true for all then why would it be true for Buttler?

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    Overplaying Buttler by the author? Don't forget, David HOPPS! Hope is always eternal. And, may even fructify one day, if Lady luck comes and blesses you. Keep up the hopes David, yours and mine!

  • John on September 17, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @Harmony111 on (September 17 2012, 13:32 PM GMT) Thing is that Buttler has been doing this kind of thing at Domestic level at Somerset for a while. I know the English domestic game is probably of little significance to you or most foreign cricket fans but anyone who follows our domestic game inc Mr Hopps would have seen Jos do this before so it's nothing new although probably more of a relief to see him do it for England. He obviously has to keep doing it before he can be talked of as an established star but 30 runs off an over - not many do that at international level from any country. Surely a couple of articles on the England home page on a specialist site after the domestic season is over is not too bad is it? Maybe we could do with another KP article instead.

  • Randolph on September 17, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    @Hammond - well that's because you missed the entire summer on a self induced exile, when you got belted to all parts by South Africa, including the 5th worst defeat of all time (taking two wickets the entire match) and winning only 6 of your past 11 tests. Now rethink that thriving statement hahah!

  • John on September 17, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    @Venkat_Super_11 on (September 17 2012, 07:47 AM GMT) Again - so no other country's media ever hype up a batsman then? Also (rightly or wrongly) Buttler has been hyped by Sky ever since he started performing for Somerset so (no disrespect to this website) but a few articles on here are a drop in the ocean compared to what Sky have said about him

  • Harmon on September 17, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    I did not see that match where Butler played that innings but it is very very extremely horribly ridiculously premature to even talk of Butler as having a secure place in the team let alone him being a batsman of any repute. I am not denouncing Butler here. He may turn out to be the combo of Cook and KP who knows. But how can we judge someone on the basis of a 10-11 ball knock? Look at what Levi is facing now, and he got a hundred !!! We need to think of the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Kevin O' Brien and many more whom I can't even recall at the moment. My problem here is not with the batsman but the person who did this article. Butler has my best wishes but the writer somehow seems to be in some unnecessary haste to thrust some title on Butler when it is still some time in coming.

  • Geoffrey on September 17, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @RandyOz- do you mean oil resources? Surely if you do actually know your cricket you would realise how utterly ridiculous that sounds. I remember an England side that came here once with a D grade Australian opening the bowling and two 40 year olds in the middle order. Jonathan Crawley and Phil Tufnell anyone? English cricket is actually thriving at the moment. Strongest I have seen it in my lifetime.

  • Randolph on September 17, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    Jos Bulter is actually playing for England? I don't think I have seen thinner resources than in England right now,

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