The first thing that catches the eye when watching Tom Banton bat is his stance. The low crouch with a high back lift that allows him to be particularly strong off his legs have an eerily similar quality to that of England great Kevin Pietersen.
Yet, Banton himself puts much of the power through his wrists and his ability to sweep and reverse sweep down to his time playing hockey. In an interview with The Cricketer, the young man claimed:
"I honestly think it’s all come down from hockey...Whenever I played I would always try to reverse stick hit. Over the years my confidence playing the reverse sweep just grew a lot higher than other shots."
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Jos Buttler is another England player renowned for his love of hockey, and one who constantly claims that the skills learnt playing it helped him in the cricket arena. With similarities already between Banton and KP and Buttler, it is easy to see why many are getting excited about this young man, and his potential in the white ball arena.
The fact of the matter, however, is that whilst all this praise on his attitude and aesthetics is warranted, it would mean nothing if Banton was unable to back it up with performances. In the past 12 months, Banton has done that.
The 2019 version of the T20 Blast saw Banton pile on 540 runs at a strike rate of over 160, including his unforgettable maiden century against Kent at Taunton. Even his first BBL was mightily impressive, as he scored 223 runs at a dazzling strike rate of over 170.
All this excitement has seen him already dubbed a potential world beater, and the Vitality Blast YouTube page recently produced a highlights package claiming that he was a future star.
Banton's T20 stats now stand at 870 runs at an average just below 35 and a strike rate of 160. To put this into context, Banton currently sits at 7th on the list of all time highest T20 strike rates, ahead of the likes of Glenn Maxwell (17th) and AB de Villiers (35th).
The one question that still looms over Banton is his international pedigree. His 3 T20 Internationals were acceptable, but not remarkable. The Somerset batsman has scored 56 runs at a very healthy strike rate of nearly 165 but a below par average of just 18.
However, his performances in domestic cricket, coupled with the fact that he looked comfortable at the highest level despite not making a big score, suggest that Banton already looks a certainty in England colors for the next decade.
Michael Vaughan believes that Banton should not participate in the upcoming IPL and instead concentrate on red ball cricket to earn a place in England's Test middle order. That is high praise for a player who is yet to score a first-class century.
Banton went on to respond to the old England captain, claiming that he was "100% committed" to the IPL, and saw it as a valuable stepping stone to earn a place in England's T20 World Cup squad. However, the fact that Banton, after just 12 first-class games and no centuries in the longest format, is already being touted as a future Test player, shows the immense ability the player has.
Banton himself claims he wants to play Test cricket, but his focus right now is rightly on the white-ball game - especially with back-to-back T20 World Cups on the horizon.
Banton's career looks set to be one filled with powerful shots, swashbuckling strokes and skillful flicks. With the young man now having decent experience behind him, and a technique somewhere between De Villiers, Pietersen and Buttler, it is understandable why Banton is generating so much excitement.
His fans would hope that his upward curve continues, and that they haven't yet seen the best of this exciting young man.Published 05 Feb 2020, 02:22 IST