Tom Banton knows that the competition for top-order positions in England’s limited-overs teams is fierce, but he hopes it will make it more difficult for selectors to opt out.
In the absence of injured Jason Roy and rested Jose Butler, Banton opened the batting against Pakistan in the first of three T20Is at Old Trafford on Friday evening. Although rain eventually forced England to abandon the game after 16.1 overs, Banton had plenty of time to impress by recording his first T20I half-century.
After a slow start in Manchester – he scored 12 of his first 13 balls – Banton then struck 59 of his next 29 balls, hitting five sixes in the process, to help England back into the game after the greatness of the Pakistan bowlers. He was restricted to just 34 runs in the powerplay. Banton’s 71 in the series finale against Ireland earlier this month was England’s highest ever score and followed with his first ODI half-century.
During that Ireland series, Banton batted in an unfamiliar middle-order role, which he acknowledged was difficult to adapt to. Before the series began, England captain Eoin Morgan said it was difficult to open 22-year-old chances, where he would bat for Somerset, at the disposal of the quality and depth of England’s top-order batsmen. However, Roy’s injury has given Banton the chance to bat in the series.
“I find the medium to be quite tricky because I haven’t really done it. So I want to open if possible,” Banton said. “I’m essaying that the white-ball team is so good when it’s at full strength. I’m not going to get into it at the moment. I’m trying and scoring and scoring as many runs as we can. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
Banton opened the batting in three matches against New Zealand in November, and England were again without their first choice players but they failed to record a significant score. However, he was impressed by his ultra-aggressive approach and strike rate of 170 in three matches, which matches the blueprint of how England want their openers to play in T20 cricket. Once Banton goes in the innings, he is equally destructive. This time, however, he was able to keep up with things.
“I’m probably a little bit confident,” he said of the first international series in New Zealand. “They were my first matches for England, and I was very upset. Knocking tonight gave me a little more confidence that I could do it at this level. New Zealand was seven or eight months ago, and I feel like, ‘We’ve grown up as a cricketer.’
“I have worked on some things in the winter, tact-wise, my stance, etc. For me, I like to keep it simple. There will be days when you don’t do well. It’s an innings, I can go duck, duck in the next two. But for me it’s just confidence and it’s me. Given, so hopefully I can put the points on the board. “
Banton was particularly tough against the spinners of Pakistan today. He hit Shadab Khan for three sixes and Imad Wasim’s fourth wicket and was the most comfortable of all England batsmen against the slow bowlers of the tourists. Shadab eventually dismissed him, attempting another big blow, the first of four wickets for England to lose by 14 runs to Pakistan’s spinners by 19 balls shortly before the rain. The home team needs to perform well in the remaining two games.
Prior to that, Banton, who had joined the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, was able to show his credentials against the fast after his international commitments were over. He scooped Haris Rauf three times on a fine leg, a boundary in the ninth over, and then twice in the 12th over, a four and another six. Against spin and against speed, there are plenty of examples of this innings of all-around talent that Banton has.
“I look at where the field is and try to judge what he’s trying to bowl,” he said. “I think the wicket is ideal for slow deliveries. It was a little tennis-bally and a little tricky to start. He bowled really well and I struggled. Then I got a little farther and it gives me confidence to keep going from the ground … He’s going to bowl a little bit about me.” had hey and luckily it came out.