Jos Buttler 'at peace' with the prospect of failure as positive footwork pays off for England

Niroshan Dickwella completed the stumping of Jos Buttler
Sri Lanka v England, 3rd Test, Colombo, 2nd day November 24, 2018

Jos Buttler credited a TV re-run of a Michael Clarke masterclass as the inspiration behind his much-changed batting approach on the third day in Colombo, as he switched from the use of the sweep to relying on nimble footwork to combat Sri Lanka's spinners during another vital, momentum-seizing half-century.

After arriving at the crease with England four-down for 39 in their second innings and struggling in particular to combat Dilruwan Perera's skiddy use of the new ball, Buttler took to galloping out of his crease to meet it early, a policy that paid off on the one hand as he top-scored in England's second innings with 64 from 79 balls, but did ultimately result in his downfall midway through the afternoon session, as he was stumped down the leg side off Lakshan Sandakan.

"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]."

Asked why he had deviated from the sweeping tactic which, in the second Test at Pallekele in particular, had proven so effective for England, Buttler claimed he had simply been inspired to try something different after watching a re-run of Clarke's treatment of England's premier spinner, Graeme Swann, during one of their many Ashes encounters.

"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.

"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 offspin 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 did, however, concede that his premeditated movement out of the crease had carried with it inevitable risks - much as his use of the sweep had led to his downfall in both innings of the second Test. However, he insisted that, by staying true to his gameplan, he was able to rationalise the disappointment when it did finally backfire on him.

"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's equanimity at the prospect of failure was a further reflection of the relaxed team ethos that has been encouraged by Trevor Bayliss, and which has already seen huge gains for the white-ball squad in their rise to the No.1 world ranking.

"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."

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