Jos Buttler, the Orange Cap holder has scored 499 runs from 8 games in IPL 2022 at an ave of 71.28 and strike rate of 159.42
The 15th season of Indian Premier League (IPL) has been all about Jos Buttler opening the batting for Rajasthan Royals (RR) and smacking the bowlers all around the park with his sheer power and elegance to collect truckloads of runs.
But is it the same Buttler whom we had seen a few months earlier in Ashes 2021-22 where he was in all sorts of trouble, managing to score just 107 runs in 8 innings at a paltry average of 15.28. For any player, it is so vital to understand his own game and the atmosphere that suits him the best; perhaps, the new edition of IPL has helped Buttler to rediscover himself.
A rare combination of Power and Purpose
What differentiates Jos Buttler from others in T20 cricket is the combination of his sheer ability to transcend boundaries and put a different flavour to his shots, besides understanding the game situation, which is rare for an individual to have in toto.
Undoubtedly, the three centuries this season have been the standout performances of the league but a closer look will reveal that in all those knocks, Buttler steadily took time in the middle to construct the innings. Against Mumbai Indians (MI), his hundred saw him giving respect early on while against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), he was on 17 off 15 in the beginning; even against Delhi Capitals (DC), Buttler wasn’t in his rhythm totally. But he had full trust that if he could somehow get in, he can tear away any bowling attack easily.
For an illustration of Buttler’s understanding of game situation, let’s go back to the last ICC T20 World Cup 2021, which was held six months ago. In a game against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, Buttler displayed the importance of appreciating the ebbs and flows of the game.
England were limping at the end of powerplay with a miserable scoreline of 36-3; Buttler was on around 18 off 17 balls, but he never tried to play a risky shot. Soon, he notched up his fifty from 45 balls, before going one step better and collected his next 51 runs from just 22 balls as England made their way to 163 thanks to Buttler’s 101 on a wicket where others had struggled staying on the pitch, not to mention scoring runs with that simplicity.
Comparisons galore with Virat Kohli’s ‘Bradmanesque’ 2016 IPL edition
Chasing the 2016 version of Virat Kohli is a mountainous job but Jos Buttler perhaps now has the best chance to go past him. We are placed at the halfway stage of IPL 2022 and the England opener is just one short of 500 runs.
In comparison with the former India captain, Buttler, after RR’s last game against Delhi Capitals, where he clubbed an outstanding 116 runs, now has 42 less runs than Kohli scored in 2016, after eight innings. Kohli had lit up the stage six years back, finishing with a record 973 runs in 16 innings at an average of 81.08 and a superb strike rate of 152.03. Buttler still requires 474 runs with a maximum of eight or 9 possible games in hand, if Rajasthan qualify for the playoffs which is very likely to happen.
In the first eight innings in IPL 2016, Virat had four fifties and two centuries, even though he failed to convert his fifties (75, 79, 80) into hundreds; while Buttler, in his first eight innings of IPL 2022 has three centuries out of which there have been two consecutive hundreds. So, undoubtedly Buttler is ahead of Kohli at the moment, but the expectation from the Royals camp would be watching the England wicketkeeper-batter carrying this purple form deep into the competition.
Rajasthan have been fairly dependent on Buttler
The amount of runs that Buttler has scored at the top of the order playing till the end has helped Rajasthan putting on 200 or more on the board three times in just seven games of the season. Overall, the franchise has scored 1331 runs from 840 balls till now, out of which 491 runs have come from the blade of Buttler at a humungous strike rate of 161.51 and average of 81.83.
He has ensured for his franchise that a set batter would remain in the middle even in the sixth to 15th over phase and keep the onslaught going; this is a phase where teams tend to lose momentum quite easily even after a good powerplay. Buttler has smacked 32 sixes till the 36th game of the league and has found good support from Shimron Hetmyer (17) and Sanju Samson (15); even in the list of most fours, he is right at the top with 41 boundaries.
In a chase of 193 against Gujarat Titans, Buttler began to put the hammer on the bowlers from the very first ball, as he registered 54 in just 24 balls, before being dismissed to a 126 kph yorker bowled by New Zealand seamer Lockie Ferguson who cleverly foxed the marauding batter with subtle change of pace.
One thing is constant, however, for RR: either Buttler is scoring runs or he is providing the side rapidfire starts.
Buttler well-placed to join Elite T20 Club of Kohli, Rohit, Warner and Gayle
It is really terrifying to imagine where Buttler would finish at this pace at the end of his tenure. But at this rate, he is going shoulder to shoulder to the likes of David Warner, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Chris Gayle, the giants of T20 cricket.
Few records might indicate how fierce Buttler could be in the future; the record for most centuries in IPL history is in the name of Chris Gayle who had six centuries in 141 innings while the second in the list is Virat Kohli who has five tons in 206 innings.
Buttler, with three centuries in the first seven games of the season, now is joint-third on the list with David Warner and Shane Watson, who also have four hundreds each in 155 and 141 innings, respectively. Ridiculously, Buttler has four centuries in 71 innings and at just 31, it wouldn’t be surprising if he goes past the ‘Universe Boss’ at some juncture.
Why is Buttler so special in T20 Cricket of late?
What makes Buttler special is stroke-production; he can nail a fifth stump line ball over covers for a huge six and hit the same ball over third man for the same result, he can crack a maximum with relative ease either straight over the bowler’s head or in the long on region.
Buttler’s hands are so strong that even a miscue can easily go well over the head of the fielder standing near the boundary line. He can also play those funky shots like Warner or Abraham Benjamin de Villiers; further, the England batter can plan a chase like the ‘King of Chases’ Virat Kohli. His fitness is another factor which enables him to carry the same intensity even into the dead end of the game.
With each passing day, Buttler is getting better in his job. From the likes of Nasser Hussain and the late Shane Warne, all have praised the T20 version of Jos Buttler and to add more spice, ‘Master Blaster’ Sir Isaac Vivian Richards himself has picked the England right-hander to bat for him in a World Cup tournament.
Buttler has definitely got back his lost mojo and has rediscovered himself with his elegance and power in the shortest format of the game.
Rajasthan Royals play their next game against Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 30.