London: Jos Buttler headed to Sri Lanka with reigning champions England's World Twenty20 squad having at last convinced himself he can succeed as an international batsman.
The 22-year-old Somerset batsman has long been regarded as one of the most promising talents in the English game but, until Wednesday, had never reproduced that form at international level. He made a duck in his only one-day international against Pakistan and, prior to Wednesday, six Twenty20 innings yielded just 36 runs.
But Buttler's creative strokeplay and power were on show, albeit briefly, during England's 28-run Twenty20 win over South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday in a match reduced by rain to 11 overs per side. He struck three sixes and two cheeky 'ramp' fours over fine leg to finish on 32 not out off just 10 balls as England ended the series all square at 1-1.
"I went out with a bit of a different approach, I think the situation dictated how to play and I'm really pleased to finally contribute to an England win," Buttler said. "International cricket hasn't quite gone as I'd have hoped but days like that are really pleasing and give me a lot of confidence for Sri Lanka.
"It was an innings I was desperate to play in an England shirt. I could take confidence from what I've done for Somerset but to do it on the international stage is a really proud moment. It's nice to repay the faith that people have shown in you but tomorrow is another day and I've got to get back to working hard so I keep asking questions of the captain and coach."
Buttler's assault on left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell saw the South African concede 32 runs in an over, the second costliest in international Twenty20 cricket history. Having seen his favoured 'ramp' shot prove his undoing before at international level, Buttler twice executed it perfectly. "Obviously it didn't work out against Pakistan in the UAE and I got out twice playing it, but it's a huge part of my game so I keep trying it and it came off," he said.
"I had a bit of a confidence knock getting out to it in Dubai. But I had a couple of nice texts off (Somerset captain) Marcus Trescothick just saying 'enjoy yourself' and that's what I did. I think in Twenty20 that shot has become the norm when you see fine-leg up. I always know I have an option. Guys improvise a lot these days and try to second guess the bowlers so I'm glad I can do that and have it in my armoury.
"The way I play it I think I can do it to a full ball, a wide ball or a back-of-a-length ball. I'm really comfortable with the shot." England have two warm-up matches in Colombo - against Australia on Monday and Pakistan two days later - before their title defence proper begins against Afghanistan on September 21.