Jos Buttler, if not greater, on par with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle among IPL GOATs | Crickit

Jos Buttler, if not greater, on par with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle among IPL GOATs

Apr 17, 2024 01:18 PM IST

He may not be celebrated enough but Jos Buttler is an all-time IPL legend… and let no one tell you otherwise.

A year and a half back, Jos Buttler oversaw a spectacular English campaign at the T20 World Cup in Australia. Leading from the front, the skipper finished as the fourth highest run-getter in the competition with 225 runs as his team brushed Pakistan aside in the final in Melbourne.

Jos Buttler's rare animated celebration says it all. (AFP)
Jos Buttler's rare animated celebration says it all. (AFP)

Buttler, however, is less celebrated for becoming only the third England captain, after Paul Collingwood (2010, T20) and Eoin Morgan (2019, 50-over), to lead his country to a World Cup crown than he is remembered for masterminding a disastrous run at the 50-over World Cup in India last year, when the defending champions crashed out at the league stage.

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If Buttler believes – and there is no indication he does – that he hasn’t quite got his due, he is well within his rights. In a world of bling and glitz, the Taunton-born 33-year-old is the perfect example of going about one’s business without fuss or fanfare, and getting the job done against all odds because he has channelised his belief elsewhere.

Every inch the modern-day T20 giant to whom no part of the ground is out of bounds, Buttler still cuts an orthodox figure for the most part. He is a part-muscler of the cricket ball, at his most effective when not trying to hit the cover off the ball. He possesses an innate understanding of his game, as well as the maturity to realise that even in the frenetic world of 20-over cricket, desperation is no recipe for success.

Batting as if from fading memory, his left thigh strapped heavily, England’s white-ball captain looked nothing like the limited-overs behemoth he is during the first half of Rajasthan Royals’ steep run-chase against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. There was no rhythm to his batting, no cadence to his movements, no flow to his innings in the early stages when, admittedly, he didn’t enjoy too much of the strike but didn’t make much of the balls he faced either.

The Buttler of the past might have been suckered into attempting an ill-advised hoick to shed the shackles, but a greater awareness of what works for him and the calming influence of head coach Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan legend, precluded any misguided adventurism. As the game seemed to be drifting away from the table toppers, first at 121 for six and then, more damagingly, at 178 for seven – Rovman Powell’s dismissal left RR needing 46 in 19 deliveries with only the tail for company – Buttler shifted gears effortlessly, his sustained onslaught in the last three overs overturning a near-certain defeat to a famous two-wicket victory.

Where Jos Buttler stands among IPL greats

His unbeaten 107 was Buttler’s second hundred this season and his seventh in all IPLs, behind only Virat Kohli’s eight. Year after year since moving to Rajasthan Royals in 2018, Buttler has been a key performer, embracing the role of on-field mentor to young captain Sanju Samson with total commitment and assuming a leadership role off the field that has encouraged even unheralded Indian youngsters to pull his leg without inhibition.

While the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Shane Watson are celebrated as overseas batting legends, Buttler has flown under the radar. This, despite 3,473 runs in 102 matches, average 39.02, strike-rate 148.29. He has scored a half-century every four innings; his runs have been both attractive and influential, suggesting that he has ticked all the boxes, and then some more, that constitute moving into the category of the ‘greats’.

The composure and assurance with which he fashioned Tuesday’s chase was especially noteworthy because Buttler seemed to be running on empty. He could barely feel his arms, the hamstring was acting up, the extreme humidity meant sweating poured down his brow and his jersey was plastered to his back. Throw in the daunting task of having to bat through the innings and do the bulk of the scoring once Powell was dismissed, and the picture of a warrior fighting with his back to the wall is complete. But not once did Buttler flinch, not once did he look like throwing in the towel.

Indeed, by the time he began his assault on Mitchell Starc in the 18th over, it was clear that there would be only one winner. KKR were resigned to their fate, as were 70,000 visibly impressed fans of the home franchise. Avesh Khan didn’t face a ball during the 15-ball unbroken ninth-wicket stand which yielded 38 and hauled the team past the finish line. Buttler scored 70 of the last 103 runs from the time RR were reduced to 121 for six. Buttler, the legend? You bet.

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