With the excitement building ahead of England’s five-Test series against India, “reinforcing the enjoyment factor” is high on Jos Buttler’s agenda as he gets ready for the “incredibly tough challenge” – the first Test starts August 1 at Edgbaston.
“Reinforcing the enjoyment factor and the incredible opportunity it is to play Test cricket … because those two games [against Pakistan] I wasn’t sure how it would go but I approached it in a great manner and that’s important for me to do that going into this series,” said Buttler.
The new England No.7 has no illusions about the challenge that India, the world’s No.1 side, will pose.
“It’s a huge series. India are a fantastic team and are in all conditions now,” he said. “Australia is a huge series for England but India aren’t far behind. We all know the force of nature that is Indian cricket.
“They are always highly talented guys and a highly competitive team and of all the countries we play against, they have the biggest following and cricket is as much a religion there as anywhere in the world. Incredibly tough challenge.”
The short-format champion marked his return to red-ball cricket after a break of almost two years in the series against Pakistan in May-June with scores of 14 and 67 in the first Test, which the visitors won, and top-scored with 80* in the second as England won by an innings.
When he was called up, Buttler was playing in IPL 2018, where he was in a fantastic form. The England batsman hit five half-centuries in a row for his team, Rajasthan Royals, and that played a role in his return to Test cricket.
The white-ball route to red-ball cricket – it’s worked for Adil Rashid, controversially, now, and Buttler is happy with the way things have worked out.
“He’s shown his class as a bowler back in the India and Bangladesh Test matches. He’s bowling as well as I’ve ever seen him bowl. He’s looks full of confidence, full of character and excited about the challenge,” said Buttler.
“He’s a guy with excellent variations. I think you very rarely pick every single delivery a wrist-spinner bowls. He’s got good disguise and I’m sure he will take the confidence he has been bowing with all summer into the Test matches.”
At the IPL, Buttler has played for Mumbai Indians apart from Rajasthan, and obviously knows a lot of the Indian cricketers well. Not just him, a host of England players were a part of IPL 2018, perhaps even forming bonds with the Indians.
“There’s a few guys I’ve played well and have friendships with. On the field, it seems to be forgotten and everyone is very competitive,” he said. “There’s familiar faces, guys who you know a bit more about than just the cricketer. That’s one of the great things about world cricket now.
The man-of-the-match! 🥇
How good is it to see @josbuttler back in the Test side?
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 3, 2018
“You get these opportunities to play all around the world and you get to meet some great people. There’s a lot more familiarity between the sides that there ever has been before. Moeen (Ali) played with Virat (Kohli) and (Yuzvendra) Chahal. I saw them getting on quite well. I’ve played with Hardik Pandya myself at Mumbai. I’m sure there will be moments during the series on the field where those things will be forgotten. It will be highly competitive.
“People can get on well, know people well, but it’s international sport, and the reason guys have got there is because they want to win so it’ll be no different.”