After he pulled of a remarkable chase in the fifth ODI against Australia by hitting an unbeaten century, England batsman Jos Buttler said he did what India icon MS Dhoni would do in a pressure situation while chasing.
England seemed down and out at 114-8 chasing 205 in Manchester but Buttler secured a one-wicket win after hitting 110.
After the match, Buttler said he tried to stay as calm as India veteran Dhoni, who has steered his team victory during tense chases on numerous occasions.
“I just tried to soak up the pressure and tried to imagine what MS Dhoni would do. He would look unflustered and look calm and try to not panic till the end,” Buttler said.
And it seems batting is not the only area Buttler is trying to emulate Dhoni. During the one-off T20 against Australia on Wednesday, Buttler kept wickets and it was the use of his right leg while standing up to the stumps that caught the eye.
Dhoni came up with the idea of sticking his right leg out almost parallel to the ground when the batsman attempts to cut the ball. The idea is to stop the ball from going to third man. It’s a dangerous tactic as it means the keeper is off balance and can miss faint edges.
Buttler seems to have picked up on that. In the T20 against the Aussies, Buttler could be seen sticking his leg out as far as he could.
It is a very unusual technique that is not part of any coaching manual. Wicketkeepers are taught to rise with the ball and move with the gloves.
It looks like Buttler is determined to become England’s all-conquering Dhoni.
And just to give an example of what a ‘classic’ wicketkeeper would do, below is an image of Pakistan captain and gloveman Sarfraz Ahmed attempting to stop a late cut from England’s Joe Root in a T20 in 2015.
Buttler, pushed up to open at a sun-drenched and near sold-out Edgbaston, followed the brilliant match-winning century which completed England’s historic 5-0 one-day international whitewash of their Ashes rivals by this time hitting their fastest Twenty20 fifty.
He bettered Ravi Bopara’s 23-ball half-century, also against Australia in Hobart four years ago, by racing to his in 21 as England piled up 221 for five – their highest total in this format on home soil – before defying a lone-hand from Australia captain Aaron Finch (84) to close out a 28-run win.
Finch matched Buttler almost shot for shot, taking 27 balls for his 50, and hitting five sixes in 11 balls at one point as Moeen Ali bore the brunt – but he could not quite haul his team back from 72-5 as Adil Rashid (3-27) and then Chris Jordan (3-42) enforced home advantage.
Australia’s short white-ball trip therefore finishes without an international success as England proved their masters for a sixth time in 14 days.
Buttler (61) wasted no time vindicating his promotion to the top of the order, for only the second time in his Twenty20 international career, by bagging six fours and five sixes with his unique blend of power and improvisation.
Alex Hales was no slouch either, dropped down to number four and responding with 49 from 24 balls.
Buttler and Jason Roy got England off to a superb start in an opening stand of 95 in under nine overs, after Australia had put them in.
Both then went in quick succession, Buttler caught at deep mid-wicket as he tried to pile into a short ball from leg-spin debutant Mitchell Swepson and Roy – who had been badly dropped by Kane Richardson at long-off on 27 off Ashton Agar – skying Billy Stanlake into the leg-side ring.
Jos Buttler now has the fastest ever England T20I 50, in his first game as new long-term opener. He opened once before, and made 73*— Tim (@timwig) June 27, 2018
Eoin Morgan promoted himself above Hales, but his wristy reverse-hit at Swepson merely found the hands of deep point.
It therefore fell to Hales to keep up the momentum, in a stand of 72 with Joe Root, which ended when Hales fell in bizarre circumstances – slapping a slower bouncer back to Marcus Stoinis’ first delivery of his solitary over for a memorable one-handed return catch.
Jonny Bairstow strode out to administer two late maximums, though, and it seemed from the outset of Australia’s reply that they were up against it.
When Liam Plunkett made quick work of D’Arcy Short – stabbing a pull into the hands of short fine-leg – much depended on fit-again Glenn Maxwell.
But Jordan had the perfect delivery for him, fooling the big-hitter with a slower one which invited ambition but messed with the timing and hit off-stump.
Finch could not get on strike in a powerplay which amounted to 59 for two, and England’s spinners then took three more wickets for eight runs.
Australia’s captain could only watch from the other end as Travis Head was caught at long-on off Moeen and then, in Rashid’s second over, Alex Carey was bowled pulling and Stoinis picked out long-off with a flat hit without scoring.
Finch responded mightily, in a stand of 86 with Ashton Agar which more than doubled the score. But, when he was caught inches inside the long-on rope by Jordan off Rashid, England’s supporters could breathe easily again.
A controversial 10-ball over may still be included in the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new ‘Hundred’ competition – despite evident opposition from players.
Professional Cricketers’ Association chairman Daryl Mitchell has warned of significant disquiet among members over proposals that, in order to complete a 100-ball allocation when the tournament gets under way in 2020, one over will consist of 10 deliveries.
The Press Association reported that there is no ECB agreement that the 10-ball over will have to be scrapped from ongoing plans for the high-profile eight-team franchise league.
Discussions are ongoing between all parties, and the likelihood is that no official new developments will be announced by the ECB until this autumn or early winter.
Some critics have derided the 10-ball over as a gimmick.
Worcestershire opener Mitchell told the Daily Mail: “There’s certainly strong opinion among the players that there shouldn’t be a 10-ball over.
“People who are going to bowl at ‘the death’ are concerned about that, because of the physical demands and mental well-being.
So the PCA are against the 10 ball over because of workload but they are fine with 2 t20 competitions going on at the same time. If a bowler can’t bowl 10 balls in a row then they probably shouldn’t be playing cricket. Be against it because it’s a gimmick not because of workload— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) June 27, 2018
“I don’t think it would be possible to ask, say (Sussex fast bowler) Tymal Mills, to bowl a 10-ball over at 92-93 miles per hour, especially if you throw in the odd wide or no ball.
“Then it becomes 12 or 13 balls, and I don’t think that’s good for the game as well as the bowler.
“You want the genuine quick bowlers to come steaming in because that’s what people want to see, and six balls is enough for them.”
Mitchell hopes the ECB will take on board the opinions of players, some of whom are less entrenched against the ‘Hundred’ format than they were at first – notwithstanding the consensus against a 10-ball over.
He added: “It’s very difficult for us to say whether we like the idea or not when we still don’t know what it’s going to look like.
“The momentum is turning in a positive direction, but there are very much a number of sceptics among our members too.
“The new competition needs us on board, because it needs to fly and do very well.”
England fast bowler Mark Wood spoke this week about the franchise tournament – and although he is open to suggestion, he too has qualms about bowling 10 balls without a break. “Personally I’m not a massive fan of that,” he said.
“I’d give it a good go – but to think you could go for 60 in 10 balls! Especially if the first two balls go for six, you’ll be thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve got eight balls to go here’ … so it’s not going to be the best.
“It’s not the physicality, it’s more the mental state of getting hit for a couple of sixes early doors and then you think, ‘Oh no here we go’. But if it is a 10-ball over then it could change the game dramatically, couldn’t it?”