England batsman Jos Buttler has taken world cricket by storm in the past year and if the recent series against Pakistan was anything to go by, he will be the biggest threat for opposition bowlers as teams gear up to play in the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales. Despite dominating the headlines in the last year with his consistent show, Buttler considers India skipper Virat Kohli as the 'form batsman going into the showpiece event.
Speaking to IANS, Buttler not only professed his admiration for Kohli, but also revealed how the time he spent with former Australia skipper Steve Smith during the IPL (playing for Rajasthan Royals) helped him learn about the amazing work ethics of the batsman who is hungry to show the world what they missed while he served a 12-month ban after the Sandpaper Gate in 2018.
"Both obviously amazing batters, I first time saw Steve up so close this IPL, it was a great experience to watch him go about his practice and his work ethics. As for Virat, we all know what a fantastic player he is and has been. He is probably the 'form batsman' for the last 12 months in the world. Two fantastic players, very different styles, but both very impressive," he said.
While pundits feel that how Buttler goes about his business at the top of the innings for England will decide the fate of the hosts in this edition of the showpiece event, the batsman picks Ben Stokes for special mention.
"Ben is the biggest key player really for England. He balances the side brilliantly in the way he can bat and bowl and has a great influence on the whole team. He is one of the best all-rounders in the world and I am looking forward to him showing that with some quality performances in the World Cup," he pointed.
Talking of his own journey in the last year, Buttler feels the elevation to the top of the innings while playing for Rajasthan in the IPL changed the course of his career.
"It has been an incredible year personally. I think last year when I started with the Royals, I was doing okay, but I wasn't quite feeling like I was showing exactly what I was capable of and a change to the top of the order coincided with a great run of form and from there I was very lucky to be involved with England in Test match cricket and had a really enjoyable summer. Have been riding that wave ever since and looking to make it continue and last as long as possible," he smiled.
England are touted as favourites going into the World Cup and Buttler believes it is the result of the effort that the team has put in over the last couple of years. But he is quick to add that all these mean nothing once the tournament gets underway on May 30.
"I think it is good to be favourites as that shows that you have been doing some really good stuff leading into the tournament. But it doesn't really count for much when you get into the tournament. We just have to stick to what we have been doing and what has worked well for us. If we see around the world, every side has got some dangerous players and say for example we came up against an in-form Chris Gayle in the West Indies and a player like him can make life extremely tough for whoever you are. We just have to trust ourselves and take one game at a time," he revealed.
Finally, with the World Cup being played in England, there is bound to be the pressure of expectations from friends and family, but Buttler just wants to go out and enjoy the ride.
"It is obviously a huge thing and as a side we have been planning and building for it for a number of years. With it being in England, it is hugely exciting for English cricket and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. Very excited about it," he said.
(Baidurjo Bhose can be contacted at email@example.com)
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First Published: May 22 2019 | 10:24 AM IST