Jos Buttler is one of the superstars of world cricket. IPL winner, England’s dynamic white-ball keeper-batsmen and, for the next few weeks, Lancashire’s major weapon in the T20 Blast.
His expected omission from England’s Test squad against South Africa means that Lancashire have his services for the entirety of the T20 Blast group stage, as the Lightning seek to regain the title that Buttler helped them win in 2015.
He showed all of his nous and experience in the shortest form of the game by batting through the innings to guide Lancashire to a five-wicket win over Derbyshire last weekend.
Speaking after that win, Buttler revealed how much he is enjoying the chance to be a part of the Lancashire squad.
“I love being back here and playing,” Buttler said.
“It’s a great place to play and a really good, fun group of guys to be a part of. I’m really enjoying some time and being a part of the team. It’s important to get stuck in.”
Lancashire have made a solid start to the competition, winning two of their first four games, suffering a last-ball defeat to Leicestershire and having their Roses clash end in a tie thanks to the weather.
Buttler believes the squad has what it takes to go all the way in the Blast, and is also delighted that the tournament is being played in a block this season.
“We can definitely go on and win the competition. We have loads of bowling options.
“It’s great to have those, and again with the bat we bat very deep. So that’s a huge bonus especially in T20.
“We are a good enough side that if we brush up on a few pieces here and there we can show we are capable of winning the competition.
“For me, playing T20 cricket in blocks is vital. It’s really hard to prepare when you come off the back of a four-day game and you’re trying to practice on the day of a game.
“It’s great to be able to have that period of time practicing, and turn up knowing it’s all about the game.”
At 26, the former Somerset man is no longer a youngster and brings with him a wealth of big-tournament experience at both domestic and international level.
He has been one of the leading men in dragging England’s one-day game into the 21st century, showing his prowess as a 360° player with an array of scoops and sweeps as well as devastating power-hitting.
All of which goes to make him a perfect sounding board for some of Lancashire’s younger talents, the likes of Liam Livingstone, to learn from and Buttler is keen to play that role.
“I think that experience I’ve had is vital,” Buttler explained.
“I probably didn’t understand that when I was 20 when people said that but now, having played a lot of games, been a part of different things around the world, I think that really helps.
“I’ve understood my own game and my preparation a lot more and what works for me. Also to try and impart that on guys in the team and try to offer advice.
“I try to give as much as I can and help out by giving ideas. Crofty has been a brilliant captain for us and its great that he’s done that for a while and he knows the squad well.”
Lancashire have had some difficulty with securing overseas players for this T20 Blast, as both James Faulkner and Mahela Jayawardene withdrew for differing reasons.
But they can call on the vastly experienced Ryan McLaren, who has starred in all formats this season, as well as the return to the club of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy-winning bowler Junaid Khan.
“Junaid is world class, isn’t he?” Buttler said.
“He’s a fantastic bowler. He showed that during the Champions Trophy. He bowled really well in that and in T20 there’s not many better. He’s only played two games and I’m sure he’ll get better and better through the tournament.
“Ryan McLaren, he’s a fantastic overseas signing with lots of experience. It’s great for the team to have experience like that around.”
Buttler clinched the IPL title with the Mumbai Indians earlier in the year, although he was forced to miss the final due to England commitments.
That meant he watched the final at home and we saw that infamous Instagram video of him jumping around in just his towel, with only a strategically-placed blue blob making it broadcast-able!
He’s hoping to make it a T20 double with the Blast this year, but acknowledges there’s a long way to go in the group.
“It’d be nice to do an IPL & T20 Blast double – I can jump around in my towel again!
“Hopefully I could maybe play in this one. I think T20 is a great form of the game, it’s loads of fun.
“We know Finals Day is a brilliant day out, having been there, and it would be really special to go on. But obviously you’ve got to take it phase by phase and you’ve got to qualify for the next round. That’s the most important bit.”