England's Jos Butler turned out to be one of the biggest craze in the Indian Premier League due to his superlative form with the bat. After a lukewarm start to season when coming in to bat lower down the order, a promotion to the opener's slot turned out to be a masterstroke. Butler's scores while opening have been - 94*, 95*, 82, 51, 67 - as he became only the fourth batsman across T20 leagues to score five successive half-centuries in a single tournament.
He seemed well poised to become the first cricketer in Twenty20 history to score six successive fifties but missed out the opportunity as he failed 11 runs short against Kolkata Knight Riders during his last game in the ongoing IPL.
Many believed the way he was batting at the moment it might just be enough for Rajasthan Royals to be in a position of scripting some historical win on the back of Butlers willow, like the way he did quite regularly in their last few matches.
What looked to be distant possibility turned out to be exactly opposite in reality as national selectors could not ignore his current batting form and called him back to join the England Test team. Butler took part in the last edition of Bangladesh Premier League but unfortunately failed to perform as per expectation for Comilla Victorians.
During his stint with BPL he spoke exclusively with Asian Age's Atif Azam about the days of his growing up and his present plans of action to consolidate himself as an international player and achieve his future goal, precisely getting back into the Test squad. Here are the excerpts:
How are you enjoying your first stint at BPL?
J B: It has been good. We are playing well as a team. There is a good environment prevailing in the camp and we are right in the middle of the competition firmly placed to win the tournament. The competitiveness level is quite high and so I am really enjoying my time.
Do you feel that becoming the 2010 Wisden school cricketer of the year was a major break for you as it must have given you substantial amount of exposure or was that 227 not out during a record-breaking opening stand in a 50-over national schools game, adding 340 with Alex Barrow for King College in April 2008?
J B: Maybe everything played a part. I enjoyed my stint at school cricket because I was lucky enough to go through a great school with fantastic cricket pedigree with close link to Somerset. I was fortunate to learn a lot playing with older guys and it all began when I was a teenager because those were important behind my growth as a cricketer.
Every achievement and recognition is important for any sports person and it happened to be all the same for me too.
What prompted you to pick wicket keeping because first of all it's a thankless job and physically demanding it can sometimes have an impact on someone's batting who is expected to come up in the order?
J B: I always wanted to be involved in the game and like to be at the thick of action. Maybe while fielding I did not touch the ball enough while keeping wickets you are involved with every ball of the game.
I am not totally sure whether keeping wickets can have an impact on batting because we have seen some great wicket-keeper batsman who managed both with equal flair and ease. As far as talking about the physical part it did not have any impact on me till date and honestly quite happy to pick up the wicket keeping gloves.
Presently you are involved in a lot of franchise-based T-20 cricket. Do you feel the experience is helping you in developing your skill that can benefit you while playing for England or is it just an option to earn some quick bucks?
J B: Definitely it helps me to develop not just as a cricketer but as a person as well. Coming to different country and playing with different players as well as watching them closely while sharing the dressing room lend a hand in your journey as a player and you learn a lot about yourself as a person. In cricket terms seeing how the players play in their own condition and how the foreign players adapt to condition is very enriching.
Do you miss Test cricket?
J B: Yes of course and I am always ambitious to play Test cricket. No one gets two hung up and it is important to focus on the next day and what's possible rather than have too many regrets about things. Test cricket is a brilliant form of cricket and in England it is always been the ambition of players to play Test cricket.
Coming to your batting it is not the typical English batting. You have always strived to ambitious shots rather than working it out by some of your countrymen who depend more on their technique and temperament. Any particular reason behind it or it came to you naturally.
I think it came to me quite naturally and I always tried to look at the game and see how you can improve and come up with something different. I think this whole process is an exciting part. I don't like necessarily conforming to tradition rather I like challenging the norms and see what can be done differently and potentially better.
Are you keeping track of Ashes and what is your view on Pink ball cricket?
J B: I am watching Ashes quite regularly and seeing our development and we did quite well in the first Test by doing lot of things right and if we can keep improving on that I don't know why we won't bounce back. I think it is little bit of an unknown with the pink ball Test match and that poses another new dimension in cricket.
How do you look forward to the World Cup 2019?
J B: I think it is an exciting part for the English team. Last year we had Champions Trophy and we really fancied ourselves as a team for that. We would be going towards the World Cup with high ambition and it has been taken very seriously by us. White ball cricket had certainly become very important for us and especially with the World Cup at home and I think we are moving on the right direction.
Any ideal in the growing days?
J B: Adam Gilchrist. I think he played a huge part in changing the philosophy and perception about wicket keepers and with all his achievement taken together it played an impact on the current generation of wicket keepers.
Why do you think you struggle in the subcontinent? Do you feel it is the wicket and condition or the mindset?
J B: Naturally, there is lot of reasons behind that. Naturally English players are brought up in England and we play our cricket in England. Here the wicket and the condition are different than what we are used to in our own back yard. Here we play a lot of spin bowlers but in England we play a lot of seam bowling.
So it the product of your environment and naturally things are different. But it cannot be put up as an excuse because the scale of the best players in the world is to adapt in different condition. I am sure with the way we are playing it won't long for us to fare better than what we did in the subcontinent.
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