Marcus Trescothick: Jos Buttler is a batsman for this new age
Jos Buttler is what I’d call a ‘new age batsman’, capable of scoring runs around all 360 degrees of a cricket ground – and a certainty to become a regular member of England’s one-day international squad.
Never was that more perfectly demonstrated than at Taunton last Sunday when our talented 21-year-old produced an unbelievably mature innings to win Somerset’s Friends Life t20 game against Northamptonshire.
In last week’s column, I expressed my astonishment that Jos was overlooked for England’s one-day internationals against West Indies. It surprised me that we went back to Ian Bell instead but, of course, he has played brilliantly in both matches so far.
I thought England would open with Ravi Bopara, rather than Bell. While it’s hard to argue with selection issues after two resounding wins, I believe Jos is the future and it is only a matter of time before he is in the squad to stay.
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His performance against Northants was everything you could want from an England player, not because he scored an unbeaten 58 off just 38 deliveries, but because he saw his team through to victory after we had been firmly behind the eight ball with a only few overs remaining.
Spectators went away talking about the two Dilshan scoops off successive balls from Chaminda Vaas, which brought boundaries when 15 runs were needed off only eight deliveries.
I have played against Vaas many times and can vouch for the fact that he is one of the most clever and artful bowlers in the game.
For Jos to have the confidence as well as the ability to out-think him twice in such a tense situation was just incredible.
The Dilshan scoop is a totally premeditated shot, so Jos would have been committed to playing the first one as Vaas ran in. It is possible to vary it depending on the length bowled. If it is short, you can generate more elevation and power.
In this case it was a very full ball, so Jos had to get into a low position to guide it over his shoulder for four.
I’d love to know the mind games that went on then because Vaas produced an almost identical delivery next ball.
He probably thought that having employed the scoop, Jos would look to hit him straight to the other shortest boundary on the ground.
What one of the most experienced bowlers in world cricket thought when the ball brought an action replay shot and four more runs to fine leg, I can’t begin to imagine.
That’s what I mean about a new age batsman. I was taught to play straight when I was growing up and it has been more difficult for my generation to adapt to shots like the scoop, which are now such a big part of limited overs cricket.
Today youngsters practise hitting all areas of the ground from an early age, from striking the ball back over the bowler to flicking it over the wicketkeeper’s head.
Jos has already been doing it for years and spends a huge amount of time in the nets practising the scoop shot against balls of varying line and length.
But you also have to possess huge faith in your own ability to do what he did last Sunday. Don’t forget he got out twice playing the shot for England during the winter at a time when he was desperate to make an impression.
To then produce it twice in a game balanced on a knife-edge said a lot about Jos as a character. He has to keep playing it, whatever the outcome, because it is a match-changing stroke the opposition captain can do nothing about.
Beating Northants was so important because it gave us five points from our first three t20 games going into two fixtures this week in which we will be without Kevin O’Brien and George Dockrell, as well as Richard Levi, Albie Morkel and Craig Kieswetter.
International commitments rob us of all five for this evening’s away match with Warwickshire and tomorrow night’s clash with the Welsh Dragons at Taunton.
Jos knew the pressure to win on Sunday and that’s what made his innings extra special. A good player might have made fifty and got out when it mattered most, but he saw it through.
I can’t finish this week without expressing my deep shock over the death of Surrey batsman Tom Maynard at the age of only 23.
I first came across Tom some years ago because his father Matthew was a coach in the England set-up and used to ask me for bats to give to his up-and-coming son.
When Tom began his career he used the same bat company as me. I got to know him through playing against him and, like his father, he had a great sense of fun and enjoyed life to the full.
He was always entertaining to be with and to think that his life has been cut so short is tragic, not least because he might easily have become an England player of the future.
His one-day cricket was dynamic and his four-day game was slowly progressing. He was an aggressive player prepared to take more risks than others and an excellent fielder because he was so athletic. I know Somerset sent a message of condolence via our former chief executive Richard Gould, who now fills the same role at Surrey, and my thoughts are with Matthew and the rest of Tom’s family.
INTERVIEW: RICHARD LATHAM