It doesn’t really feel that Jos Buttler has been playing cricket for almost seven years now, does it?
He looks the part of a man settled in all formats of the game instead of looking the part of a moderately-experienced cricketer. But isn’t that what Jos Buttler is, given he’s still ten innings away from playing his fiftieth Test inning?
Probably, nothing could ever explain the importance of Jos Buttler to England than the current series being contested in Queen’s England, where all but King Kohli have failed to tackle the English might.
When the ongoing Test Series hadn’t even begun, the focus where it came to batsmanship rested on the quintessential crowd favourite- Joe Root versus Virat Kohli.
Questions such as ‘how many runs would a Jos Buttler score’ weren’t exactly social media posts or subjects of Google queries.
To some spectators, it would’ve been Cook frying up Indian seamers and sending them into oblivion. Instead in a series where Cook’s just about to contest in his last-ever appearance, England’s fortunes are being chauffer-driven by a reliable Buttler.
So, for a batsman, who seems neither an established Test classicist nor a lame pushover, scores of 89, 69, 106 and 24, constructed post his Birmingham disaster (where he managed a solitary run) have meant that he’s been England’s top batsman in the series.
Who saw that coming?
What makes Jos Buttler’s effort commendable, is that it’s come against what is World’s number 1 ranked team. Then, the fact that Buttler’s opponents are playing a brand of college grade cricket cannot be exactly dubbed his fault.
England’s man of the hour: Jos Buttler
He was once, this pleasant-looking wicketkeeping batsman who was touted as a capable batsman.
Today, it’s hard to imagine the English side without the valuable services of its vice-captain, who represents, both, a tireless keeper and an agile stroke-maker.
Just like it would’ve been hard to imagine England’s first-innings total of 332 in the ongoing Test without Jos Buttler’s 89.
And just like it would’ve been utterly unimaginable what would’ve become of the Rajasthan Royals (in 2018) had it not been for Jos Buttler’s aggregate of 548 runs, that came at an average of 54 and that highest score of 95, where he refused to be out.
Jos Buttler is England’s Matryoshka doll
For a batsman who debuted in T20s, back in 2011, played his maiden ODI in 2012 and his first-ever Test in 2014, Buttler’s career represents a Matryoshka doll.
When you open the biggest doll, there’s one mid-sized doll inside.
And, guess what?
There’s another one inside it.
The same way, with nearly 5000 plus runs from all three formats (collective), Jos Buttler’s career resembles a shape-shifting creature, that’s only growing in size, akin to the constantly ticking clock; ever moving.
That reminds us about both the brevity of time as well as of possibilities that beckon to be unlocked in every moment.
Buttler seems to have settled in Tests
That Buttler himself admits of being truly born in Test Cricket with his very white ball-effort in red-ball cricket, through that 80 not out against Pakistan means he’s not taking his place for granted. This is when he’d struck 8 fifties before arguably his most famous spanking, for with a very T20 strike-rate, there’s nothing else that could describe it better.
It then also states he’s capable of doing what another English wicketkeeper did, decades before Jos Buttler arrived.
In stitching useful partnerships, whilst hanging around with tailenders, finding unlikeliest of alliances at the dead end of English batting- Jos has done an Alec Stewart, who was famous for forging formidable alliances with either Darren Gough or with Andy Caddick.
While Buttler’s penchant for stitching valuable partnerships bears an uncanny resemblance with the halcyon days, the only thing that’s changed is that Test cricket producing more results than what it did, back then.
And could there be anything better other than seeing a fabulous collective of sterling English batting talents, engaging in a freewheeling expression of sorts, as seen in a Morgan, Root, Stokes, Bairstow and, Buttler?
Important for World Cup 2019
That Buttler’s got age on his side and with it, the intent of going big makes him exciting. While he’s a few years younger than the likes of Pujara, Rohit, Shikhar, Dwayne Bravo, Guptill and Faf but alongside Stokes, Williamson, and Dinesh Chandimal.
At 28, Buttler’s swift recovery from being this lazy batsman whose greatest undoing was never sufficiently the bowler’s cleverness but the self-manufactured poor shot selection, into being a batsman who can be relied on augurs well for England.
What lies ahead?
This is, especially bright at a time where along with its handy collective of ball-smashers, Root and Morgan would be hoping for the likes of Buttler, Stokes, Bairstow, Roy, and Hales to come good for the 2019 World Cup.
The only thing that remains to be seen is, how well can Buttler take an inning at a time and settle into a more evolved cricketer.
While the spark of attaining bright things has been shown, can he retain it for what lies ahead?