London – Jos Buttler aims to put the lessons he learnt from watching Virat Kohli while playing in the Indian Premier League to good use during England’s upcoming Test series with India.
England face Kohli’s men in the first Test at Edgbaston on Wednesday, with Buttler keen to build on the encouraging return to the five-day format he made during a recent 1-1 drawn home campaign with Pakistan.
The 27-year-old was recalled to the Test line-up purely on the strength of some impressive batting displays in this season’s Twenty20 IPL, with new England selection chief Ed Smith convinced the dynamic form he showed in India would transfer into the Test-match arena.
Smith selected Buttler, England’s white-ball wicketkeeper, in the unusual role of a specialist number seven Test batsman and was rewarded with back-to-back fifties.
But Buttler, speaking to reporters at The Oval, said there had been more to his personal IPL experience than the five successive half-centuries he made for the Rajasthan Royals, culminating with two unbeaten 90s, in this year’s edition.
“The biggest thing I have learnt from the IPL is that it’s obvious what the best players do and why they are the best players and standouts,” said Buttler.
“They just have a different mentality, a winning mentality in every game and the consistency to do that. I feel like I have learnt 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,” he added at an event staged by Test series sponsors Specsavers.
The example of India captain Kohli, one of the world’s leading batsmen in all formats, made a particular impression on Buttler.
“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,” he explained.
“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… that hunger really shines through in those top players.”
Buttler’s highest Test score remains the 85 he made on debut, against India, at Southampton four years ago.
His 32 subsequent innings, spread over 20 matches, have still to see him better that first attempt and now Buttler has set his sights on a maiden century, although even for someone of his ball-striking talent that may not be straightforward given number sevens can find themselves batting with the tail.
“It is the ultimate aim, I would love to achieve that feat,” he said.
Meanwhile Buttler added a Test series with India was almost as important to England as the Ashes.
“Absolutely, it is a huge series. India are a fantastic team, in all conditions as well now.
“Australia is a huge series for England, but in this day and age India are not far behind.”
Prior to a tour where India have won the Twenty20 series and England triumphed 2-1 in the one-day internationals, Kohli said he thought relations between the teams would be cordial because of the links forged in the IPL.
But Buttler, while acknowledging players got on well off the field, insisted this had not diminished either side’s desire for victory in a five-Test series.
“It will be highly competitive,” he said.
“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.”