Calm and collected Jos Buttler carves a way out of poor run of scores

Jos back in form. Source (X)

Roughly a year before Jos Buttler earned his maiden England cap, he was diligently plying his trade for Somerset. The year was 2010, and Somerset were taking on Surrey in a 40-over game. On that day, the glow of Buttler’s six-hitting matched the radiant sunshine at the Taunton Cricket Ground. Three shots still reverberate from that innings: A few chips over the cover-region off Matt Spriegel and a scoop while facing Chris Tremlett.

This was the very season when Tremlett seemed to have touched a higher peak in his career, extracting awkward bounce. In some months’ time, alongside James Anderson, Tremlett would engineer a famous Test series win Down Under. But if you rewind the narrative back to the Taunton Cricket Ground, Tremlett looked bemused. Neither his extra bounce, nor his attempted yorkers had any effect on Buttler.

The clock keeps ticking relentlessly. The year is now 2024, and Buttler has reigned supreme in shorter formats across frontiers. In the IPL itself, he has collected six hundreds. Although his batting has now been supplemented with a back-forward trigger while facing pace bowling, he still makes six-hitting seem like gobbling up an ice-cream. 

When he walked out to bat against Royal Challengers Bengaluru in Jaipur on Saturday, he had something more to think about than just clearing the boundary rope — his poor run of scores. He had aggregated just 35 runs over three innings in IPL 2024, and that too at a strike rate of less than 100. On predictable lines, Buttler looked a touch jittery against Reece Topley, his England teammate, early on in his innings.

Just when it appeared that Buttler would continue to search for his batting rhythm, Faf du Plessis, the RCB skipper, decided to introduce Mayank Dagar into the attack. And Buttler’s timeless trait of pouncing on any weak link in the opposition ranks came to his rescue. All that helpless Dagar could do was watch Buttler put his bowling to the sword with quicksilver footwork. Just like that, the England limited overs skipper had regained his form.

There is another way to gauge Buttler feeling in sync with his game. Over the years, he has developed a wristy drive off the back foot to counter pace bowlers’ strategy to usher in full deliveries to prise him out LBW or bowled.

In Rajasthan Royals’ previous game versus Mumbai Indians, Buttler had played an archetypal back foot drive when Kwena Maphaka pitched the ball up. Just freeze the frame when the willow meets the leather, and you will notice it was right under Buttler’s eyes. A clear indicator that the batter was watching it quite well.

Buttler was also of the view that he felt like he had regained his touch in RR’s last game. “However long you’ve played the game, you still have those anxieties and stresses. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself it’ll be okay. Just keep digging in, working hard, at some point we will be okay. I actually did feel really good in the last game, even though I only scored 13 or something.”

Be it 2010 or 2024, when Buttler crunches a six, there is invariably the wow factor associated with his game. That Buttler mesmerised the fans with a sublime display in ‘Pink City’ isn’t news anymore. But the essence of his unbeaten hundred in his 100th IPL game was his tenacity to battle with his inner demons and carve out the right path, where he could put on yet another exhibition of effortless power-hitting.

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