Buttler expecting to kick on
Jos Buttler is ready to make a name for himself at the World Twenty20 after silencing his own doubts by delivering the goods for England.
The 22-year-old could hardly have any reason to reproach himself, even before his game-changing 32 not out from just 10 balls in the series-levelling victory over South Africa at Edgbaston four days ago.
Yet as Buttler prepared today for England’s first and only practice - weather permitting, between the Colombo downpours - before they start their warm-up campaign against Australia tomorrow, he admitted to anxious thoughts over a slow start to his international career.
Buttler’s England team-mates knew from his exploits with Somerset, and from their own eyes in the nets, that he was a Twenty20 revelation waiting to happen on the world stage.
But since making his debut against India a year ago, up until last Wednesday Buttler had mustered only 36 runs in six innings.
There was mitigation aplenty in the circumstances of those opportunities - which came either with no realistic time to make a telling contribution, or in especially awkward conditions.
Even so, Buttler admitted to relief as well as a release of frustration after smashing Wayne Parnell for 30 in an over in Birmingham to set up England’s 28-run win.
He can therefore join the defence of their World Twenty20 title knowing he has at least begun to prove himself globally.
“I’m excited about it, gaining a bit of recognition or getting noticed,” he said. “That can only be a good thing; it means you must have done something right for sides to know who you are now.
“How you deal with that expectation decides how successful you are.”
Buttler began his assault on left-arm seamer Parnell with two big sixes down the ground before bringing out his favoured scoop shot to fine-leg.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence to take into the tournament,” he added. “There’s a bit of relief as well to finally put in a good performance for England. International cricket hasn’t gone quite as I would have hoped so far.
“But, especially in Twenty20, opportunities come in different ways - and on Wednesday, I got a really good one and was able to take it.”
Negative thoughts had inevitably crept in along the way for the precociously talented Buttler, despite reassurances from his team-mates and England management.
He admitted: “You suddenly start thinking ’am I good enough to be here?’, and stuff like that - and ‘when will I get a good chance to do something?’.
“But those frustrations can take your focus away from why you are actually there, and why you’ve been successful in the past.
“That sense of being calmer, more myself and more relaxed - and having that belief that I’m good enough to be there - was a huge factor to performing.
“I didn’t change anything with my batting, but maybe with my mindset I was a bit more relaxed. I had a good couple of chats with a couple of people to just relax me.
“There was nothing to actually be tense about ... you break it down, you’re playing for England in a Twenty20 so just enjoy the moment, enjoy the occasion; if it comes off, it comes off.”
He is thankful to his England colleagues, and selectors, for retaining their collective belief in his ability.
“They were very supportive. It wasn’t like it was ever far off,” he said. “I could see there was some faith in me in that I kept getting picked. There was obviously a lot of belief from other people, which I take good confidence in.”
In true Twenty20 style, it all changed very quickly as Parnell suffered.
“After the first one I hit, I thought ‘this is good fun, I can enjoy this’,” said Buttler. “It was just one of those overs, he bowled it where I guessed and it just came off.
“I can score all round the wicket, but the skill for me is judging when to play which shots - and not feeling the pressure, because I know I can score; I don’t have to show people I can play those certain shots ... if something’s working, stick with that.”