Jos Buttler insists friendships formed between England and India players during the Indian Premier League will be “forgotten” when the two sides meet in the five-match Test series, which commences on August 1.
Virat Kohli, captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore, has spoken of positive relationships with English players – he shared a dressing room with Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in the 2018 IPL – but despite this, England’s wicketkeeper-batsman says the Test series will be “highly competitive”.
“Naturally you have friendships with them but on the field they seem to be forgotten and everyone is competitive,” says Buttler. “There are familiar faces, guys you know a bit more about than just the cricket.
“That is one of the great things about world cricket now. You get these opportunities to play around the world and meet these great people. There is a lot more familiarity between the sides than there ever has been before.”
Buttler, who opened the batting for the Rajasthan Royals in the 2018 IPL and scored five consecutive fifties, said there was a distinct difference between match days and non-match days during the limited overs series.
“Not on the pitch but maybe on the training days and around the lunch room,” added Buttler on the enhanced relations between the two camps. “Moeen played with Virat at RCB and [Yuzvendra] Chahal. I saw them getting on quite well. I have played with Hardik Pandya at Mumbai so you are open to having a chat.”
“I am sure there will be moments in the Test series, especially on the field, when those things look like they have been forgotten. It will be highly competitive.
Buttler also praised the temperament and hunger of India’s players. “[They] make less mistakes under pressure,” he said. “They seem to make the right decision a lot of the time. That is a skill.
“The hunger to do it day in day out at training, in the matches whether they have had successful matches the day before or not. That hunger really shines through in those top players.
“The biggest thing I have learned from the IPL, it is obvious what the best players do and why they are the best players. They just have a winning mentality in every game and the consistency to do that.”
“I feel like I have learned a hell of lot from watching guys train and go about their practice, ways they react to certain pressure moments in a game as well. Someone like Virat Kohli is an immensely talented guy but also watching him go about it you see that mentality of getting to the top.”
Buttler’s tremendous IPL form prompted Ed Smith, England’s chief selector, to hand him a Test lifeline against Pakistan this summer, and while the swashbuckling lower-order batsman repaid the faith with two half-centuries, a Test century still eludes him – the 85 he scored on debut in 2014 remains his highest score in the five-day game.
“I would love to achieve that feat. It is nice to think it has been four years since I made my debut. I have good memories against India but it is about reinforcing the enjoyment factor and the incredible opportunity it is to play Test cricket.
Buttler’s transition from the middle order to the top of the order in T20 cricket has proved fruitful, and he’s open to moving up the order in Test cricket also.
“I am happier to bat higher up if that is what the side needs from me. I am still very fresh back into it and loving being back involved, ” he said.