Jos Buttler was glad he made the most of a chance he feared would be denied him on England’s Test tour of India.
Buttler marked his second Test back, following a year out of the team after being dropped last winter, with a valuable half-century to help England to a first-innings 400 all out as India spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took all 10 wickets between them.
The hard-hitting batsman had to get his head down and demonstrate great defensive nous, as well as the occasionally inventive release shot, in his innings of 76 – including a ninth-wicket stand of 54 with Jake Ball.
England finished day two of this fourth Test with much work to do nonetheless, after Murali Vijay (70no) and Cheteshwar Pujara carried India’s reply to 146-1.
Buttler claims England can still be optimistic about the outcome at the Wankhede Stadium, where they are bidding to fight back from a 2-0 deficit with two to play.
Whether they win, lose or draw, though, the tourists can be heartened by Buttler’s sixth fifty in his 17th Test. The 26-year-old admits, however, that he was not anticipating such an early comeback.
I’ve learned one of the big things you have to have, that the top players have, is belief in your own gameJos Buttler
“In the future, I always thought I’d get a chance,” he said.
“But whether it would be as soon as this, I wasn’t sure.
“I was fully aware and probably expecting not to play a game in Bangladesh or even here in India.”
Buttler believes the break from Test cricket – he has been a regular match-winner in limited-overs cricket throughout – has helped him.
“I’ve learned one of the big things you have to have, that the top players have, is belief in your own game,” he added. “And be confident when I get a chance that I’m going to perform.
“You are your own best coach. There’s plenty of people out there to speak to, but probably one of the things I was doing when I struggled was speaking to too many.
“(It is better) bringing it back to a few close people you trust, and more yourself – no one can do it for you.
“You can receive great advice, but you’ve got to believe in yourself.”
Buttler has coincidentally, as a Mumbai Indians overseas player, featured as often at this ground over the past year as he has for his county Lancashire at Old Trafford – and now scored exactly 186 runs at each venue.
He added: “Probably the best thing for me is having not played any (red-ball) cricket for a year, and having some time to think about my game.
“We play so much cricket that sometimes there isn’t enough time to think, break down your game and (work out) what is vital to get the best out of myself.”
England will have to bowl better than they have so far in order to have any chance of securing the win they need – a point made by both Buttler and, more pointedly, by India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.
“I think when we get home tonight we can probably think, ‘Yes, we need to be a bit more consistent’,” said Buttler. “When you get a string of dot-balls, that seems to be when things happen.”
Parthiv was more pithy with his home truths.
“I think the quality of our bowlers is far better,” he said. “They definitely get more revolutions on the ball than their spinners are doing. There is a definite difference in quality, for sure. We don’t have to go over the top, or try to play a sweep or reverse-sweep because there might be a bad ball coming soon.”