In an exclusive interview with Headstrong: An Innings With, England World Cup winner Jos Buttler recalls a conversation with a team psychologist early in his career that preceded his first notable contribution for the senior England side.
In a wide-ranging interview that covers England’s World Cup win, negotiating boredom in bio-secure bubbles and his time at the IPL, Buttler pinpoints a specific innings after which he grew in confidence as an international cricketer.
By September 2012, Buttler had played 11 times for England in white-ball cricket but had not yet passed 13. Buttler credits a conversation with Dr Mark Bawden – a psychologist with the England team at the time – with instilling him with confidence before what turned out to be his first Player of the Match performance for England.
“I certainly doubted myself a lot in that first year or so,” says Buttler. “I felt good enough to play county cricket, I’d had some success there but with England I certainly felt nervous and I was doubting myself a bit. It wasn’t until I had a really good conversation with Mark Bauden who was the psychologist at the time.
“I was just saying, ‘I don’t feel like I’m at my best here, I want to show to the dressing room that I belong here but I’m doubting myself.’ We went through the ‘inverted-U theory’ – where do you sit on this line when you’re at your best?
“Excuse my language, but I sort of said when I’m at my best I feel ‘f*** it, just get on with it’ and just play and I don’t question myself. That was where that was born.
“In the next game, I got 30 off about 10 balls against South Africa. That was the breakthrough moment for me, that I could do it at this level. I’ve got the talent, I can do this. It was a huge moment for me, more so for the guys in the dressing room. I felt like I could go back to the dressing room and with the others [thinking], ‘Yep, he’s good enough to be here.’ It wasn’t so much the outside noise I was worried about, more the respect of my teammates.’”
The innings Buttler refers to came during a rain-affected T20I against South Africa at Edgbaston. Buttler came to the crease with just 16 balls remaining in their 11-over innings, yet still managed to blast a 10-ball 32* from No. 5. Buttler was eventually named Player of the Match as England secured a comfortable, series-levelling 28-run victory.
You can listen to the full interview with Buttler on the Headstrong podcast, available to listen to on all the usual podcast hosting platforms. Headstrong: An Innings With supports the Ruth Strauss Foundation and is exclusively previewed by Wisden.com.