What’s cooler than being cool; Being Jos Buttler
Speaking after his devastating 71* off 32 against Australia, England’s Jos Buttler said, “It’s something that I try to work on a lot, the mental side of things, to have complete trust and access that zone”.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka in Sharjah, they came up against a man who is well and truly in that zone, at the peak of his powers and on current form, the cleanest white-ball striker on the planet.
With a quite stunning 101*, Buttler played an innings of the highest class to all but secure England’s place in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with a fourth win out of four.
It was an astonishing display of batting which showcased the incredible versatility of his game, as well as his ability to adapt to the match situation. If ever there was an innings paced to perfection, then this was it. This was a genius at work.
Astonishingly, Buttler has now scored 214 runs in the tournament whilst only getting dismissed once.
He eventually finished with 62% of England’s total which ludicrously trumped the 56% of England’s total that he made on Saturday.
Buttler is making this tournament his own.
At the halfway stage, England, put into bat for the first time in the tournament, were in a spot of bother at 47/3.
After waltzing their way past West Indies, Bangladesh, Australia without really breaking a sweat, Sri Lanka were causing England all sorts of problems. They managed just four boundaries in the first ten overs.
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Jason Roy was bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga before Dawid Malan had his off-stump taken out by one that stayed low from Dushmantha Chameera. And when Jonny Bairstow went for a golden duck to Hasaranga, Sri Lanka were well on top.
That England managed to set a target of 164, was thanks to an ultimately game-changing partnership of 107 from the captain Eoin Morgan and his deputy, Buttler.
Remarkably, at one stage, Morgan was on 9 off 20 and Buttler was on 35 off 38.
Yet, both played admirably to rebuild the innings and take England to a match-winning score.
To get a measure of how tough the conditions were, Paul Collingwood said at the interval that, ‘the guys were relaying back to the dressing room that 110 may be a decent score’.
Luckily for England, the word ‘decent’ isn’t in the dictionary of Buttler.
This is a man that deals with the exceptional.
In stark contrast to his brutal knock on Saturday, where he finished with a strike rate of 221.49, Buttler nudged along in Sharjah, showing great respect to the craftiness of the Sri Lankan spinners and the challenging Sharjah surface before shifting the gears and blitzing his way to a remarkable first-ever T20I hundred. As well as joining that illustrious club alongside Alex Hales, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, he also became the first man for England to hit a Test, ODI and T20I hundred.
Buttler’s half-century took 45 balls – the slowest ever for England at a T20 World Cup and the slowest of Buttler’s T20I career.
But the manner in which he subsequently took the game to Sri Lanka was quite something to behold.
His second 50 took just 22 balls, finishing off by clubbing a full-toss from Dushmantha Chameera over the ropes, before taking off his helmet and raising his bat towards his teammates with a beaming smile across his face.
He said after the match that he ranked the innings as “right up there” but the most striking part of his post-match press conference was when he spoke about believing in his capabilities.
“Using my experience, I stayed patient and trusted that it would come at some point in the innings,” said Buttler. “Believing that at some point I’d come good.”
Come good he did. And in case there was ever any doubt whether this was going to be Buttler’s day or Sri Lanka’s, his superb bullseye throw to remove the Sri Lankan captain, Dasun Shanaka, sealed the win for England. At the moment, it’s as if he can do no wrong. Buttler, roaring in delight. England, roaring on.
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