Buttler keen to make his mark

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Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler hopes the World Cup can provide the perfect stage for his coming of age as an England player.

The 24-year-old has established himself as one of the most talented young players in world cricket. However, that is a tag that is starting to sit uncomfortably with him.

Just under two years since he made his England one-day international debut, Buttler is desperate to take the next step and become a reliable match-winner.

“I don’t want to be someone who is talked about who could be a good player for England,” he said.

“It’s great to have potential and it’s great to have talent, but there comes a stage where you want to be someone that the media and commentators don’t talk like that. They talk about you being a performer for England.

“That’s a stage where you have to get to.”

Buttler points to newly-appointed India Test skipper Virat Kohli, who is two years his senior, as proof his time has come to become one of England’s go-to men.

Kohli has established himself as one of the stars of international cricket, even while being bestowed with arguably the toughest job in the game.

Even more significantly he has a record to be envied having already hit 21 ODI centuries in 150 games in the format.

While Buttler will only step out for his 50th ODI in the World Cup opener against Australia next Saturday, he boasts just one century so far.

That it was the fastest ever by an England player, from 61 balls at Lord’s last May, highlights the star quality that Buttler is desperate to unleash more often.

“Virat Kohli has played a lot more games, but he’s only 26. No-one talks about his potential because he performs at a stage which is the world’s best,” Buttler added.

“I think age is irrelevant. It’s about performance.

“No-one is the finished article, Virat Kohli is nowhere near the finished article, but he performs at a level that is world’s best and that is what everyone aspires to get to as fast as they can.”

Any comparisons between Buttler and Kohli’s progress should be tempered by the fact the Englishman has spent the majority of his international career buried further down the order as a ‘finisher’.

Where Kohli has been freed to enjoy the obligingly flat surfaces of the sub-continent high in a powerful India top-order, Buttler has been restricted to a role that does not lend itself to consistent heavy scoring.

For now Buttler is happy to fulfil the role, content to do what the team asks of him, but his ambition ensures he harbours hopes of a move up the order one day soon.

“I don’t really have (a favoured batting position),” he said.

“Coming into the England set-up, the back-end of an innings is where I’ve had a lot of success, trying to close out innings with 10-15 overs to go. I think that is a good place for me to bat.

“I’m ambitious to score bigger scores and I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as someone who can only finish an innings.

“I want to be someone who can bat for 35-40 overs and get big hundreds. That’s my ambition and if I get a chance to do that at any point then it is down to me to try and take those opportunities.

“At the time you do what is required of you in the best place where the coach and captain see you in the team.”

This stage of Buttler’s career is reflective of an England team largely in its infancy as they prepare for the World Cup.

The Lancashire gloveman has seen much change in his two years in the international set-up, after making his ODI debut against Pakistan in Dubai, and nine of England’s 15-man squad here have never played at a World Cup before.

“It’s different. When I first started Jonathan Trott and KP were still in and around and there was Graeme Swann,” he said.

“It’s a much younger side and probably a much more exciting one.”

The young talent was enough to get England to the tri-series final – twice beating world champions India – but not to secure a win against Australia.

While talk since has revolved around the strides made forward, Buttler concedes that at a World Cup securing wins will be all that matters.

“Now we know that we have to perform,” he said.

“That (talk of improvement) doesn’t really wash any more. It’s about being in a tournament, playing games of cricket and getting to a quarter-final and taking it from there and getting as far as we can.”

Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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