Jos Buttler feels reinvigorated by the time off he had following a whirlwind summer as he returned to action with a century in England’s final warm-up before the Test series against New Zealand.
Buttler was an ever-present in the triumphant World Cup campaign and drawn Ashes series, but the nerve-shredding ending in the former seemed to have a direct impact on his form in the latter.
Just 55 runs in six innings over the first three Tests against Australia put Buttler’s place under the microscope but he finished the series strongly with knocks of 70 and 47, enough for the selectors to retain him.
The 29-year-old was one of several players rested from the recent Twenty20 series victory against the Black Caps and he believes he is reaping the benefits after a sensational 110 in the draw against New Zealand A in Whangarei.
“It was a tough summer, physically and emotionally, great fun and a huge challenge and one you look back on with real fondness,” Buttler said.
“But it certainly took a lot out of most of us, so the four to five weeks we’ve had off have been invaluable.
“It’s been really good to have some time away from the game, and sort of get refreshed and allow yourself time to think, and have a bit of reflection on where you’re at, and some things that I felt I needed to work on.
“It was nice to have some time to do that because you don’t always get time with the way the schedule is.”
During his break, Buttler revealed he got in touch with former Somerset team-mate Marcus Trescothick, who was part of England’s coaching set-up during the Ashes.
While there were some minor technical adjustments, Buttler thinks he profited more from the pair delving into what makes world-class batsmen successful.
Buttler is known for his belligerence in the limited-overs formats but that has not transferred into the Test arena and is not likely to either.
“I enjoyed working with (Trescothick) in the summer. I spoke to him about doing a few sessions, which I thought was brilliant, I really enjoyed that and got a lot out of it,” Buttler said.
“It gave me some building blocks to coming here and feeling in good touch.
“There were a few technical tweaks, just a few things that creep into your game, which you try and eradicate – more around my set-up really, just trying to be in the right place at the right time, when the ball’s released.
I don’t want to pigeon hole myself to play one wayJos Buttler
“We spoke a lot about the game-plan as well. There’s so many different techniques, I don’t think there is a right technique, but the guys that do seem to score runs more consistently, they read the game really well and have good game plans.
“I’ve never really seen red-ball cricket as easy as coming in and playing really attacking. I’ve never really convinced myself to do that. And I don’t want to pigeon hole myself to play one way.
“Since I’ve come back in (to the Test side last year) I’ve faced quite a lot of balls and that’s trusting my defence which has been a big part of trying to improve myself as a red-ball player.”
Buttler’s hundred at the Cobham Oval just days before the first Test against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui was only his sixth in 101 first-class matches – and second in the last five years.
“It’s something I’ve been very light on. I know it’s a warm-up match but it’s nice to spend time in the middle and get to three figures,” he said.
With Jonny Bairstow omitted from this two-Test series, Buttler is taking on the wicketkeeping duties, a role he is relishing.
“There are some fantastic keepers in England so it’s a really competitive role which means everyone pushes you on. But I’ve nothing to lose so I’m looking to work hard and enjoy it,” Buttler added.