Jos Buttler is addressed as ‘the boss’ by his team-mates. Considered one of the most destructive players in the shorter format of the game, the England stumper-batsman has proved his mettle in the Indian Premier League over the past couple of years.
But this time around, it has been a mixed outing for the 30-year-old. A change in batting order has seen Buttler score 293 runs in 12 games for Rajasthan Royals. While he enjoys opening the innings, Buttler, however, has played some crucial knocks batting in the middle-order.
In a conversation with Sportstar from the United Arab Emirates, Buttler talks about the tournament, England’s tour of India and more…
How would you rate your performance in the IPL so far?
I would say it has been okay. Obviously I would like to score more runs and have a bigger impact on the game. I think I have done okay but obviously, there (has been) change of roles halfway through the tournament. So, I would say average.
This season, your batting position has changed frequently. Where do you prefer to bat?
I enjoy all the positions. My favourite would be to open the batting. I love opening – I think for everyone really, it’s the best place to bat at T20 cricket. But I am happy batting at middle-order as well – I have done a lot in my career.
How much of an advantage is it to be part of a franchise, which also has three of your England team-mates – Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Tom Curran? Does that help in coping better?
It is certainly a big help really because we have some good friendships in the team already and knowing guys on and off the field gives you that time to switch off and chat as mates as well. With your cricket, you will obviously know each other’s games really well, and help each other as well.
Jofra Archer (second from right) celebrates a dismissal with team-mates Varun Aaron (extreme left), Jos Buttler, Steve Smith and Sanju Samson. – BCCI/IPL
How challenging has been it to adjust to the conditions in the UAE?
The wickets have played well actually, considering how many games have been played in just three venues. I think there are some excellent fast bowlers in the tournament who are bowling well at the top and are creating wicket-taking chances. You are most vulnerable in the first five to ten balls, and the guys have picked up wickets. It has been a really well balanced tournament between bat and ball.
How has been the experience of playing in the leadership of Steve Smith?
He is a very calm captain. Obviously, one of the best players of the game and an excellent cricket brain. He leads the guys very well and I think he is always looking to try and stay calm under pressure. He talks about that a lot and that’s something he really tries to live.
Steve Smith and Jos Buttler. – BCCI/IPL
For most cricketers, initially it was a challenge to stay put inside a bubble. But did the fact that England had a long season in a bio-secure environment help you adjust better?
It helps in terms of knowing what to expect. The two bubbles are quite different really. Here we are not staying at the ground and we have a lot of outdoor space – the weather is fantastic everyday, so you can spend some time outside. Now, it’s a bit cooler. We have been very comfortable here, obviously we are missing the crowds – especially with the IPL, the crowd is one of the biggest aspects of the game. We certainly knew what to expect having played lots of behind closed doors cricket already.
How has it been to interact with some of the Indian youngsters – Yashasvi Jaiswal, Kartik Tyagi, Riyan Parag. What are your opinions about them?
It has been great. I think one of the best things about the IPL is getting to see the young Indian talent come through. It’s such a great academy kind of thing for the young guys, where they get the opportunity to play with the best players. So, I have enjoyed knowing them and they have been outstanding talents in the team. Kartik Tyagi has played lots of games and we have seen how he has done. He is such an exciting prospect. Riyan, we know, how powerful he is. Yashasvi hasn’t had too many chances, but we all know he is a brilliant talent. These are really exciting times for these youngsters.
While he enjoys opening the innings, Buttler has played some crucial knocks batting in the middle-order in IPL 2020. – SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
Coming back from a lockdown, how challenging was it to get back to the groove?
When you spend time away from cricket, your natural performance anxieties (surround) on whether you will still be able to play like before. After a few days and a few practice sessions, you get into the groove. But it’s a strange coincidence to have a nice break from cricket. We’ve had some busy years, so it’s nice to have a break, relax and sort of not think about cricket and then then get excited to come back to it again.
England is set to tour India next year. What are your expectations?
You always expect a really tough tour when you go to India. It’s fantastic playing in their home conditions. We all hope and pray that it goes ahead in such challenging times. We have all learnt to not look too far ahead.