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Opinion

Tactical awareness Jos Buttler’s greatest gift – Kumar Sangakkara

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

For all Jos Buttler’s skilful strokeplay it’s his “tactical intelligence” that most impresses Kumar Sangakkara.

The legendary Sri Lankan, a Wisden Cricket Monthly columnist and expert in marshaling one-day run-chases, told Wisden.com: “Jos Buttler has shown phenomenal improvement and awareness over the last two years.

“His skill is exceptional but his greatest skill at the moment is really about his ability to read situations and adapt his game. His tactical batting has come a long way and it’s really helped him.”

Sangakkara was a master of one-day batting

Buttler followed up spectacular scores of 80*, 91* and 54* in dominant England batting displays with a different sort of knock in the final ODI at Old Trafford. There, his masterful 110* coolly guided England to victory in a low-scoring affair that saw the home side chase down 206 with just a wicket to spare having been 50-5.

“What we saw from him coming in at different stages was impressive: when England had got off to a flier and were dominating he got those totals higher and beyond reach, and then coming into a situation where they were down and out he built an innings and partnerships with the tail to drag England to a win,” said Sangakkara, who averaged 41.98 in 404 ODIs.

“That shows adaptability, it shows awareness and it shows tactical intelligence.

“There’s a lot to like about him. He has both touch and power in his game.”

Buttler made scores of 67 and 80* in his comeback Tests against Pakistan

Buttler is enjoying a stellar 2018 which saw him star with a flurry of half-centuries in the IPL, recalled to England’s Test team, where he made consecutive fifties (having hit just six half-centuries in his previous 18 Tests). He has since been promoted to open the batting in the England T20 team.

Sangakkara is confident Buttler can continue his fine form in the longest form against India following the recall by national selector Ed Smith – providing he plays his natural game.

“I think he’ll have a specific purpose in Test cricket, especially batting at No.6 or No.7,” Sangakkara said.

“He still has to be attacking, there’s another new ball coming, he’s able to bat with the tail and has the attacking game to really shepherd that tail and take England to bigger and better totals.

“There is clarity in his purpose and no one confuses him as to what they expect from him in Test cricket. He’ll be a great asset to England’s Test team.”

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