How do you stop Jos Buttler? It was a question that was being asked again after the talented batsman’s latest one-day international hundred saw England to a 12-run win over Pakistan in the second one-day international on Saturday.
With a home World Cup just weeks away, Buttler’s 110 not out, which saw him reach three figures off just 50 balls, was another reminder of his match-winning ability in white-ball cricket.
This was Buttler’s eighth century in 129 matches at this level, with the England ODI wicket-keeper now having scored 3,497 runs at an average of 42.
But what makes Buttler a particularly devastating batsman in this format is a strike-rate of 119.88 — a figure bettered only by the West Indies’ Andre Russell (130.45) and Australia’s Glenn Maxwell (121.95).
Russell, however, has only scored 998 runs in 52 ODIs, with Maxwell making 2,700 in 100 matches.
Alterations in field and bouncer restrictions, a reduction in the number of overs in an ODI, generally shorter boundaries and the change to a ball from each end as opposed to just one for a full duration of an innings, make comparisons across the generations arguably even harder than they would be in Test cricket.
For many observers that means Vivian Richards remains the most destructive one-day batsmen they’ve seen.
The West Indies great scored 6,721 runs in 187 ODIs including 11 hundreds at an average of 47, — a tally including a brilliant, match-winning 138 not out in the 1979 World Cup final against England at Lord’s — with a strike-rate of 90.20.
But just as Richards revolutionised ODI batting with extraordinary ‘inside out’ drives to the boundary off bowlers as fast as Australia’s Jeff Thomson, so are Buttler’s range of scoops and flicks helping expand the repertoire of present-day run-getters.
Buttler’s success is also a matter of attitude as well as talent — as evidence by the words “fuck it” he has written on the top of his bat handle to remind him of his best approach to batting.
– ‘No answer’ –
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur admitted he was at a loss about the best way to stop Buttler following the 28-year-old’s batting fireworks in Southampton.
“Oh, I don’t know, I’ve just asked the bowlers actually. They didn’t give me an answer either,” Arthur said after Pakistan fell 1-0 behind in this five-match series.
“We’ll sit down and analyse that and try to work out a plan.
“I don’t think we’re going to stop him, we’ve got to find a way to get him out. The longer he bats he’s going to do some serious damage.”
England captain Eoin Morgan had arguably the best view in the ground while making a far from sluggish 71 not out while sharing an unbroken stand of 162 with Buttler that took the hosts to 373 for three in their 50 overs.
“He’s very good. He really is,” left-hander Morgan told Sky Sports.
“I was in prime position to see the whole innings and his freakish knocks seem to be getting closer and closer together, so that’s a good sign for us moving forward.
“But he seems to have a gear that not many of us have. I certainly don’t have it, but it’s great to watch.
“He always seem to time his run really well, regardless of what time he comes in, he always seems to have enough balls to go on and bang a 50-ball hundred.