He’s 24. He’s an Ashes winner. He’s part of the new generation. A crop of English cricketers schooled on a diet of T20 cricket and unbound by the fear of failure that befell some of his predecessors.
Jos Buttler is his name. And ahead of the Natwest T20 Blast Finals day on Saturday, I grabbed 5 minutes with the England gloveman to talk T20 cricket, how AB de Villiers is the best T20 batsman ever, and how he was star struck by Marcus Trescothick…
Ben Croucher: Tell us about T20 finals day
Jos Buttler: “It’s a show. They’re great fun. They’re a great day out. More so for the supporters than the players. There’s obviously some great teams on show, some sides that have been consistent in T20 cricket. Hopefully we’ll see some good cricket and Lancashire win.”
BC: And it’s more than just the cricket…
JB: “I quite enjoyed Michael Vaughan getting taken out last year my Adam Hollioake. There’s just different things going on throughout the day. It doesn’t run as smoothly with the match preparation. It is a different day. It’s unique in cricket and there’s nothing else quite like it.”
BC: For the spectators, because there’s so many different sets of fans, it doesn’t have a hostile atmosphere that you get normally does it?
JB: “It’s a fun atmosphere. Lancashire fans can be next to Hampshire fans and have a little banter about that. If you want to see some good cricket, as long as you get good weather, it’s a really good day out.”
BC: It’s almost as high pressured environment as you get in the domestic circuit isn’t it?
JB: “I think it’s probably as close, apart from the Lord’s final maybe, as you get to International cricket. With the media, the crowd, it’s a great day out for young players who haven’t experienced that before. Some really thrive on that. You look at players and see guys for the big occasion. It’s as close as you get to the international cricket in the domestic season. You want to pencil it into your diary straight away, everyone wants to get there.”
BC: How much better are your preparations now you’ve had your first full season with England?
JB: “I’ve been to finals day three times with Somerset, once with Lancashire and not had any success. Hopefully I can put it right this year. Luckily for me, I played my first finals day when I was 19/20 years old, I’ve had that experience. Playing international cricket really helps you make it more about the cricket and not the crowd and show that goes on without you.”
BC: Lancashire qualified for the final nearly exclusively without your services, it proves you have a strong squad…
JB: “We probably just scraped through to get to the quarter finals, and had a great game to get through to finals day. We’ve been on the wrong side of some really close games as well. Steven Croft, captain, says we haven’t had our best performance yet and got to finals day. It shows the strength of the side. If there’s still a performance in the locker for the weekend, that’s an exciting place to be.”
JB: “I wonder if it’s the sides that have coped with the transition the best. Going from a county championship game to playing once a week in T20, it might suit some sides with more than others. There’ll always be sides with a strong pedigree. If you look at number of matches won, Lancashire have won the most since it started.”
BC: How tricky will it be for you to adapt going from Test Matches to see ball hit ball?
JB: “For me that’s the easier way round. T20 suits my eye, the way I like to play. The two games I’ve played for Lancashire I haven’t had any T20 practice. I’ve plenty of experience of how I go about it and confident I can prepare in the right way.”
BC: Players these days are raised on T20 cricket. How much does that help or hinder you?
JB: “It’s more of an attitude thing. What people see 10 years ago as high risk, like a reverse sweep, in a test match nowadays wouldn’t be seen as a risk. It’s more of an outlook on the game. If you’ve grown up with it, it’s the norm. It’s been around for a while now. Most people have got used to it. The guys brought up on it really do enjoy that format of the game.”
BC: You’ve got to be prepared to get out and not get too upset about it…
JB: “It’s the beauty of T20. It’s a leveller. Hitting fours and sixes and don’t get out doesn’t quite seem to work every time. That’s T20. You just accept that. You might hit your first ball straight up in the air, it might go 10 rows back.”
BC: Who is the best T20 player you’ve played with?
JB: “Keiron Pollard. That was exciting. Somebody at Taunton who could clear the ropes with not even half a hit. He was great to have in the side. Really box office.”
BC: And against?
JB: “At the World T20, AB De Villiers played a pretty special knock against us. He’s the best there’s ever been in my eyes.”
BC: When you look at him, do you think you can recreate his innings or is it still amazing for players like yourself?
JB: “He’s probably on a different planet. You go through phases in cricket where you have those special players who set the benchmark and everyone aspires to be like, at the minute, he’s one of those guys. When they’re one of your favourite players, you’re a bit star struck and want them to do well as you want to watch them score runs. When you play against somebody like that, you realise they’re a normal person who gets nervous about batting. They’re just a normal person that’s very good at what they do.“
JB: “I hope so! You’re incredibly lucky when playing international cricket, playing against some of the greats of the game. Being in a changing room with Michael Clarke on that Sunday evening. In 2005 I was watching him playing in that amazing series and then you’re playing against somebody like that. It was very surreal. At times like that you catch yourself and say this is ridiculous.”
BC: Is that any different to when you first walked into the Somerset dressing room?
JB: “It was the same. I remember Marcus Trescothick being this England player who would come and play now and then and I was a little kid trying to get his autograph. He’d never oblige either! You get used to it. Somebody like Marcus, you realise he’s the biggest kid in the changing room. He’s a normal guy as well. When I made my T20 debut for England, I had Kevin Pietersen, Broad, Swann all these guys and you’re thinking how am I in the same changing room. You get used to it and they’re normal people as well.”
BC: Is it weird that you’re now THAT person?
JB: “You never see yourself like that. I understand what it feels like though. When Glenn McGrath was on the field doing some commentary and Broady was so nervous saying McGrath was his hero growing up. This is a guy who has played so much for England and he’s nervous about somebody else. It’s quite cool.”
Friday, 28th August 2015