Clarke masterpiece behind Buttler’s nimble footwork
Jos Buttler was out stumped. (AFP Image)

England’s Jos Buttler, who was exceptional with his footwork against Sri Lanka’s spinners, said the ploy to take on the spinners was implied keeping in mind the amount of purchase the home team’s spinners were getting off the surface. Buttler top-scored for England with 64, and his partnership with Ben Stokes gave England a total of 230, further setting Sri Lanka a target of 327.

In reply, Sri Lanka are reeling at 53 for 4 as England close-in on completing a 3-0 whitewash.

“We were trying to wrestle back momentum,” Buttler told Sky Sports. “The new ball seems to be a tricky place to bat against spin – some were skidding on, some were spinning. “We’ve talked about trying to play in a brave way and looking to score. It felt like being busy and getting them off their lengths was the best way to go, and trying to get a partnership going, which we managed with me and Ben [Stokes].”

Buttler added that he took a cue from former Australia captain Michael Clarke, who had employed a similar tactic against England’s spinners during one of the Ashes encounter. “In Kandy, we were watching one of those cricket classics and Michael Clarke was batting, and Jimmy [Anderson] said, God, he was using his feet nearly every ball and Swanny couldn’t bowl at him. I thought that seems like a good way to go, I’ll try a bit of that,” said the England wicketkeeper batsman.

“Sometimes you feel confident with a certain way of playing and actually using my feet today felt like the way to go, especially with the off spin and the angles from around the wicket. Sweeping had a risk of lbw and I tried to take that out of the game by getting as far out as I could.”

Buttler was given out lbw on 27 to part-time spinner Dhananjaya de Silva, but the decision was overturned by a review which deemed the ball was heading over the stumps. He and Stokes added 89 runs for the fifth wicket which rescued England and became the centrepiece of the second innings total. Jos Buttler made 64, Stokes 42 and Ben Foakes an unbeaten 36. England scored just 11 boundaries, with the lower order batsmen sweeping singles and doubles to build the score.

“A lot of the time, it’s about trying to make peace with the way of getting out,” he said. “If I got caught on the crease and lbw, I’d be more disappointed with that than getting stumped. The last game I was happier to get out sweeping than I was to play a forward defence. You can sit in the changing room after and make peace with the fact that I stuck with my gameplan.

“I think with it spinning like that, if you can get as close to it as possible to the ball, especially on the full, then it can’t spin. At times I was maybe a bit too premeditated on how I was coming down. I was trying to gauge an area [that the ball would land in], and it would have been ideal to go later and a bit more direct at the ball just after release. But to get as far out as I wanted, I felt I had to go early.”

Buttler added that the main reason behind him doing well with the bat is the fact that he is feeding off the positive energy of the England dressing room. With a win against India earlier this year and a series win against Sri Lanka, things are looking bright for Joe Root and Buttler in particular.

“It’s a little bit about the mantra that’s being preached [in the dressing room],” said Buttler. “‘Positive’ is a word that’s been used a lot, but It doesn’t just mean fours and sixes and aggressive shots, it can mean positive footwork, positive running, singles and that sort of stuff.

“For myself I look to play that way. Making peace with the way that I can get out makes it a lot clearer for me. It makes me commit to a gameplan more, rather than second-guessing ‘shall I run or shall I not?’ I might get out, but you could get out any ball doing anything. If I stick to my gameplan and get out, I’m more at ease with that than if I veered away from it.”