Power and Precision: How Jos Buttler scores his centuries

Over his professional career, Jos Buttler has hit seven T20 centuries. Whilst these have come across a range of grounds and conditions, there exist several areas of similarity across them. Watching all seven back, these are the key points to watch out for when it comes to Jos Buttler reaching 100.

Picks His Targets

As batters go, Jos Buttler seems incredibly aware of which bowlers pose the greatest danger to him. The first thing that becomes apparent across his centuries is the extent to which he picks his targets out of the bowling attack.

Most recently this was Reece Topley, an England teammate who has dismissed Buttler 3 times in the last couple of years. Taking only 12 runs off 11 balls faced, the intention here was to survive. The aggression appeared when Dayal and Dagar were introduced to the game. For Dayal it was a backfoot slap through cover that was the weapon of choice, Dagar received the six dispatched straight down the ground.

In the past the bowlers avoided have been Jasprit Bumrah, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Wanindu Hasaranga in sticky Sharjah conditions. The respective victims have been Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma, Vijay Shankar, and Lahiru Kumara.

As a plan it makes perfect sense. At all levels of cricket you’re told to wait for the bad balls and put them away. What this overlooks is the amount of pressure you put upon yourself when you go through an over without taking any risks. You take up valuable Powerplay deliveries, and risk a highly damaging knock to your team. Buttler has shown a consistent ability to take this risk and make it work.

When it does it’s quite a marvel to watch. The 6 ball takedown that unfolds is utterly merciless, and transforms a tricky start into a flying one.

Straight Sixes

What allows this approach is Buttler’s ability to hit sixes. As of the 26th March he had hit 59 sixes in this current IPL cycle (2022-24), the most of any player. Upon watching his seven centuries, it becomes very clear where these tend to be targeted.

In the world of cricket there is often a focus on Jos Buttler being a ‘360º cricketer’. You think of the ramp shot, you think of a guy who looks to score everywhere. If you look at the sixes he has hit in these scores, they are overwhelmingly through two areas. Dead straight, and over midwicket.

When Buttler hits sixes against pace he tends to remain relatively upright and still, looking to hit more through the leg side. He keeps a strong base, and tries to get a full swing through the ball rather than to manipulate the pace. This is especially apparent when facing left arm quicks coming from over the wicket. The front leg is cleared and the ball is sent back to where it came from.

Against spin you see a bit more variation. Buttler is comfortable hitting spinners for six off either the front or back foot. Off the front, the hit tends to be incredibly straight. With just a small step, the ball heads towards the sightscreen. Off the back is a shot we see Buttler playing in nearly all of his major scores, where he rocks back and pulls the spinner over midwicket.

Instead of trying to hit sixes with flicks or ramps, the focus is on striking the ball in front of square.

Through Cover for Four

Of course, sixes are just a part of the story. Jos Buttler hits a remarkably high number of fours. In looking at them, I noticed a fairly interesting tell when it comes to sensing if Buttler’s in the mood.

When Jos Buttler is batting well, he will consistently be able to drill the ball through cover, piercing the field even outside of the Powerplay. What makes this a point of interest is that this is often an area that troubles him when he is in scratchier form. As drivers of the ball go, Buttler can often be a bit uppish with his shots. It’s not unusual to see him chip the ball to mid-off or even short cover.

If Buttler can hit through cover early, it seems to give him a bit of a boost in terms of fluency. We saw this against Dayal in the most recent RCB game, but the same was true against Josh Hazlewood in the 2022 Qualifier. Many think of the ramp shot as the litmus test for a Buttler knock, but there’s a good argument that this is just as big a tell.

Predictive abilities aside, it’s worth praising how well Buttler does at finding gaps given his role as an opener. It’s not an uncommon sight for openers to freeze a bit after the 6th over, getting out trying to muscle the ball. Having spent plenty of time as a middle order player, Buttler is able to mix placement with power. If there was ever an argument for young prospective openers to have a go rounding out their game in the middle order, this might be it.

Unorthodox Style

So he hits lots of boundaries, but that’s no real surprise. Where things get even more interesting is the way that this comes about. Let’s talk about technique.

In an interview with Sky Sports a couple of summers ago, Jos Buttler himself said that he probably does not have the most textbook technique in the world. He does not keep a high elbow when he drives, and he uses a remarkable amount of bottom hand in his shots. What you can see after watching plenty of footage is how much he appears to borrow from other sports.

Some of this is well-renowned. The influence of hockey in the reverse sweep, the baseball style with which he hits straight and flat. The most interesting perhaps is the role of racket sports in Buttler’s hitting.

On Saturday a slower ball was dug into the pitch, bowled short it came to Buttler around head height. Instead of trying to pull it, Buttler hung back and hammered it over long-off. This is no one off, facing a free hit against SRH in 2021 he did the same to a Sandeep Sharma ball all the way over cover.  Instead of any cricket shot, this had more in common with a tennis forehand or smash. This comes as no surprise given the well-known story of Buttler winning a regional U13 tennis competition when he was only 9 years old.

Every cricketer will have their own style and idiosyncrasies. With Jos Buttler what stands out is the holistic approach he takes to batting. If it can be used to win a game of cricket, you’ll see it.

Power Hitting Stance

At this juncture I want to mention something that demands I give a shout out to what remains one of my all-time favourite pieces of cricket writing. Late into his innings, you will see Jos Buttler take an adapted batting stance. He opens up his body and steps deeper into his crease, he quite simply swings for the fences.

This was written about a couple of years ago and is now something I keep an eye out for in every Jos Buttler innings.

Rather than say all the same things in much less detail, go and read the original when you’re done here.

End With a Flourish

Finally, you will often see Jos Buttler cap off a big innings with a six. At this juncture I’m going to break the rules and bring in a few non-century performances too. As well as the centuries against RCB (IPL 2024) and Sri Lanka, Buttler has ended the game in style against RCB (IPL 2022), India (T20 World Cup 2022), and Australia (2nd T20i 2020). What this amounts to is a victory lap of sorts.

The game is just about already done, and Buttler opts to end it in style. A true moment of fun, and one that you can pretty easily pull off when you’ve hit 6 centuries in 99 IPL innings.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Reddit

Want more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox?

join the mailing list to be notified each time a new post goes live.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like: