Jos Buttler, the England wicket-keeper batsman, isn’t worried about peaking too early before the World Cup begins at home on May 30.
Buttler has been in sensational form lately, and shellacked 150 off 77 balls in an ODI against West Indies at St George’s. He is now set to carry that form into the 12th season of the Indian Premier League, where a string of five successive half-centuries last year had led to his Test recall.
Having enjoyed a breakthrough season, Buttler is now one of the lynchpins for an England side that are billed favourites to lift the World Cup for the first time. “The idea of peaking isn’t really an idea that sits naturally in my mindset,” Buttler told reporters ahead of his departure for Jaipur, the home of his IPL team Rajasthan Royals. “Sometimes, you hear people talking about going to another level. Why can’t you just stay at peak level?
English participation in the IPL has changed somewhat over the years, but how well do you remember past performances from English players in the competition?https://t.co/a1T5MH4xLz
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 19, 2019
“Someone like [Virat] Kohli scores a hundred every game. He doesn’t think: ‘Ah, that was okay, I’ll peak at some point’. Just do it every day. That’s the sort of mindset I’ve been wanting to hit.”
Buttler said that playing the IPL in India was a very different experience to anything he had done in England. When he arrived at the scene, Buttler was already carrying a reputation of being one of the world’s most exciting and destructive batsmen. But it did not immediately translate to success in the IPL.
Moreover, expectations are usually high from overseas players, who are generally viewed as marquee signings. Buttler admitted that the experience had taught to him to deal with expectations better.
“You have to deal with that chaos,” he said. “It might be the timing of things. It might be training’s not perfect. We’re very lucky in England, [where] everything’s very structured. But in India, you have to deal with chaos, and I think that helps dealing with expectation.
“Being an overseas player is a new experience as well. You’re one of four, rather than one of 11. Someone like [MS] Dhoni is coolness personified most of the time. A lot of the time, it’s making sure you show that externally, even if you’re not on the inside. And a lot of trust in your ability. That allows you then to let your subconscious take over in the middle.”
Buttler said that he was, by nature, a player with high self-confidence, and that usually comes through when he is in good form and can tear into attacks with audacious hitting. Equally, when things aren’t going his way, Buttler can look extremely vulnerable.
“The situation is clear and laid out for you,” he said about playing white-ball cricket. “You can look at the scoreboard and think: ‘Right, six an over, how do I go about that? Who’s got overs left? Which ends are people bowling? Who’s the danger bowler? Who I can target?’
ICYMI: Sky will not be showing this year's IPL. https://t.co/G1TSWIcLis
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 19, 2019
“I think I have an innate inner confidence, one that I don’t feel I need to prove all the time. There will be times throughout your career when it does dip a little bit. Whether it’s from within, or something you guys have written – how do you deal with those things? How do you protect your confidence when people from the outside are questioning you?”
Buttler’s IPL stint will be cut short on April 25, when he files back to England to join the team’s World Cup preparations with series against Ireland and Pakistan. England kick off the World Cup on May 30, in a tough clash against South Africa, and Buttler was clear about the kind of game he and England would need to bring into the tournament.
“It won’t be a side that plays cautiously that wins the World Cup,” he said. “Even in knockout games, it will be a side that plays some brave cricket and smart cricket. If we’re at a crossroads, we’ve been going down the positive route.”