England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler couldn’t believe his luck when he was asked to spend an afternoon training with Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart as he described it as the best appearance he would ever do.
The 24-year-old admitted to being nervous leading up to last Friday as he made his way from Somerset to spend time with England football keeper, both at City’s Etihad campus complex and the indoor nets at Emirates Old Trafford where they switched roles in a once in a lifetime chance for the huge football fan.
Buttler hails from the south-west, far from a footballing hotbed but he has always been a huge fan as he was growing up so donning a pair of goalkeeping gloves and standing between the sticks was not something unusual for him. However, trying to save a penalty from the England number one was something of a surreal experience for the cricketer who has shot to fame over the past 12-months.
Having signed for Lancashire for the 2014 season, Buttler moved away from Somerset to keep wicket in county cricket which he thought would give him a better chance of playing Test Match cricket for his country.
That transition exceeded expectations and within months he was keeping for England in the Test arena which included a debut which coincided with England’s turnaround in fortunes.
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Gaining the platform of England’s number one keeper in all formats does bring its rewards but even then Buttler didn’t expect to be training with Hart on a mild Halloween morning.
“I loved it and it was probably the best appearance you could ever get asked to do, I’m a big football fan and it was great to meet Joe,” Buttler told GiveMeSport.
“He was brilliant on Friday, teaching me about goalkeeping and he threw himself into the cricket side of things as well. He is really interested in cricket and he knows his stuff.
“It was a brilliant day and something that I have really enjoyed.”
Despite being a keen football fan, the destructive batsman doesn’t avidly follow a specific team but admits he has soft spots for his old local team Yeovil Town and Blackburn Rovers after Alan Shearer led them to win the Premiership as he was growing up. Speaking to him it seemed quite clear he had found a team he now would call his own.
“It was awesome at City and I was trying to pick my jaw up from off the car park looking at all of their cars, Sergio Aguero had a pretty nice Lamborghini that he was rocking. The complex is a completely different world isn’t it? It just shows how big football is as an industry and how much of a commodity somebody like Joe Hart is.
“After we trained in opposite sports we found out there isn’t a huge amount of similarities to be honest. He couldn’t do the wicket keeping because he wanted to protect his fingers, I think he had a big game at the weekend or something,” Buttler joked!
“The goalkeeping stuff has a bigger crosser over with fielding. So if you’re at point, that technique of diving and saving is the main similarity which was really interesting.”
Hart the cricketer
After saving a penalty against Hart they moth moved across Manchester to Old Trafford Cricket Ground where Hart padded up and faced some gentle throw downs from his opposite number and it was clear Hart could hold a cricket bat.
The former Shrewsbury keeper was in the Worcestershire CCC academy as a left-arm bowler and lower order batsman and it didn’t take him long to show his prowess which included taking out a journalist who was watching behind the unused bowling machine.
The right-hander picked up the length early and smashed an on-drive back past Buttler and into a female journalist who was observing the net session. The 27-year-old screamed out ‘oh my god’ before making sure she was ok, luckily for all concerned it was nothing more than bruising.
Sign him up
He impressed Buttler enough to even suggest he may be worth signing on a summer contract and playing for Lancashire in the NatWest T20 Blast.
“I heard he played a bit growing up and I think he played against a few of the guys so I think he might have choose the right sport by being a footballer and looking what his life is like today.
“When he said he played a little bit you could obviously see that he did. He hit a pretty clean ball there and took somebody out so maybe Lancashire could sign him up for the NatWest T20 Blast and instead of the summer holidays he could play a bit of cricket,” Buttler joked to GiveMeSport.
“We could have a middle-order of Hart, Flintoff and myself. Joe bowls a few steady left-armers too so I recon he could do a good job for us.”