Jos Buttler, on the back of his match-winning 77* in the 2nd T20I which came as an opener, described opening as his ‘favourite’ position but asserted that he is ready to bat in the middle if the team needs him to. Butler's heroics on Sunday helped England seal a convincing 2-0 series victory.
International sides taking a leaf out of an IPL franchise’s book is quite a rarity but so ludicrous was Jos Butler's run as an opener in the latter half of the IPL 2018 season that it swayed England into using the wicket-keeper batsman at the very top. England first deployed the tactic against Australia at Edgbaston in 2018 - a game in which Buttler scored 61 - and it is an experiment which has paid rich dividends as in 11 knocks as an opener in T20Is since 2018, the right-hander has averaged 51. The best of his 11 knocks, arguably, came in the 2nd T20I against Australia on Sunday as a whirlwind 77 from the bat of Buttler blew the Aussies out of the park to help the home side seal a series win.
But despite his remarkable success at the top of the order, Buttler, on the back of his match-winning knock, claimed that he was ready to bat in the middle-order if need be. That might very well be the case come the WT20 2021 as while England have a plethora of world-class openers, they are, however, a bit short when it comes to quality down the order.
"It (opening) probably is my favourite position to bat in T20 cricket. I've had most of my success in T20 at the top, but that's natural - if you bat in the top three in T20, it's the best place for everyone,” Sky Sports quoted Buttler as saying.
"We've probably got eight or nine guys who'd stick their hand up to bat in the top three; I'm very happy there, but I'm also very happy to do whatever the team needs of me.
"I've played a lot of my career - T20 and one-day cricket - batting in the middle, so I'm very comfortable doing that as well. It's really for the coach and captain to decide.
"We've got lots of strength in depth; it's something that is the mark of good teams, good players fighting over positions and that will serve us well going forward.”
It was a true masterclass from the bat of Buttler on Sunday as chasing 158, the 29-year-old paced his innings to perfection and stayed till the very end to see his team home. Despite the big guns Bairstow, Morgan and Banton failing, the right-hander kept his cool and unsettled the Aussie bowlers with the many arms in his arsenal and tellingly finished the game off with a six to take his side home. Speaking of the chase, Buttler revealed that towards the end, he approached the game like an ODI chase and expressed his satisfaction in having taken his side over the line.
"It was a great feeling to be able to walk off at the end, having won the game for your team - obviously a big game for us, with the chance to win the series, which we were determined to do.
"Once I came through the powerplay - it was one of those wickets where you felt like you needed a few balls to get used to the pace of it - and then the game was set up like a one-day chase.
"Irrelevant to me opening, I just saw it as if I was coming in in the middle-order of a one-day game, the equation of trying to chase those runs down,” Buttler said.
England will take on Australia in the 3rd T20I at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday and the home side would be hoping for a similar showing from Buttler, as a 3-0 whitewash will see them dethrone Australia as the number one ranked side in T20Is.