Jos Buttler believes friendships formed between England and India players during the IPL will be “forgotten” on the field during the Specsavers Test series. Virat Kohli, who captained Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes at Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier this season has spoken of improved relations with English players because of time spent in the IPL but, while Buttler agrees there is now more familiarity off the field, he expects it to be as competitive as ever once the first Test begins.
“There are a few guys I have played with,” said Buttler. “Naturally you have friendships with them but on the field they seem to be forgotten and everyone is competitive. There are familiar faces, guys you know a bit more about than just the cricket. That is one of the great things about world cricket now. You get these opportunities to play around the world and meet these great people. There is a lot more familiarity between the sides than there ever has been before.”
Buttler, who played for the Rajasthan Royals during this year’s IPL, said there was a distinct difference between match days and the time in between during last month’s limited-overs series between the two sides.
“Not on the pitch but maybe on the training days and around the lunch room. Moeen played with Virat at RCB and [Yuzvendra] Chahal. I saw them getting on quite well. I have played with Hardik Pandya at Mumbai so you are open to having a chat.
“I am sure there will be moments in the Test series, especially on the field, when those things look like they have been forgotten. It will be highly competitive. What you have to remember is people can get on well but the reason guys have got to international sport is they want to win and are competitive so it will be no different on the field. Off it maybe a little bit.”
Buttler’s form in the IPL and other white-ball matches was a major factor in his recall to the England side for the Test series against Pakistan and, aside from building friendlier relations, playing in the tournament has also given him the opportunity to gain some first-hand insight into the skills and approaches that set hugely successful players like Kohli apart.
“[They] make less mistakes under pressure,” said Buttler. “They seem to make the right decision a lot of the time. That is a skill. The hunger to do it day in day out at training, in the matches whether they have had successful matches the day before or not. That hunger really shines through in those top players. As well there’s Kumar Sangakarra, watching him play in county cricket, that desire and want to be the man to win the game for his team every day shines through in these players.
“The biggest thing I have learned from the IPL, it is obvious what the best players do and why they are the best players and stand-outs. They just have a different mentality, a winning mentality in every game and the consistency to do that.
“I feel like I have learned a hell of lot from watching guys train and go about their practice, ways they react to certain pressure moments in a game as well. Someone like Virat Kohli is an immensely talented guy but also watching him go about it you see that mentality of getting to the top, likewise with other players [like] David Warner and Steve Smith.”
While Buttler made two half-centuries against Pakistan earlier this summer, his highest score in the 20 Tests he has played remains the 85 runs he scored on debut, when he replaced Matt Prior in the third Test against India at the Ageas Bowl in 2014. He says he is prepared to bat further up the order if required and has set his sights on making a maiden Test century in the upcoming series.
“I would love to achieve that feat. It is nice to think it has been four years since I made my debut. I have good memories against India but, like I said before I played against Pakistan, it is about reinforcing the enjoyment factor and the incredible opportunity it is to play Test cricket. For those two games I was not sure how it would go but I approached them in a great manner and it is important for me to do that going into this series.
“I am a Test-match opener if you remember in Abu Dhabi. If it requires you are not in the XI it is how it works out. It is about putting the best team on the park to win games of cricket and I am happier to bat higher up if that is what the side needs from me. I am still very fresh back into it and loving being back involved.”
Jos Buttler was speaking at the launch of ‘The Test Experts’ Specsavers as Official Test Partner for England ahead of the 1000th Test which begins at Edgbaston on August 1