Tom Banton is a name familiar to some cricket fans but for those caught unawares, he is a destructive wicketkeeper-batsman who burst onto the England domestic scene in 2017.
However, it was in 2019 that he truly made the world sit up and take notice. Playing for Somerset, he scored 454 runs in their victorious 50-over campaign in English County cricket, following it up with 549 runs in the Vitality T20 blast at an average of 40.58 and a strike rate of 161.8. It wasn't just about the runs but also the manner in which he was piercing the field with unconventional strokes that caught the eye.
Towards, the end of the English domestic season he was duly rewarded with his maiden T20 and ODI call-ups against New Zealand and South Africa respectively. This is what England great Trescothick had to say about Banton after his exploits for Somerset:
"Tom has a massive amount of talent and he's really shone during the competition. He's a vital player and everyone has been talking about him because of how explosive he can be. He's almost that new-age type of player: someone who has come through the ranks while growing up watching T20 Cricket"
. "Some of the shots that Banton would play, I'm thinking: 'You have no right to be able to do that'. It's outrageous".
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His performance in the T20 blast was sure to attract the attention of IPL franchises and CSK and Mumbai Indians soon approached Somerset to check for Banton's availability to let him play in the IPL. However, in the IPL 2020 auction, it was KKR who pulled off the 'biggest coup'(as he was expected to go for much more) snapping him for his base price of ₹Rs 1 cr. He even signed a contract with BBL side Brisbane Heat where he enthralled audiences with his dazzling strokeplay scoring 223 runs off 7 innings at a strike rate of 177 and an average of 32. He was also picked up by PSL side Peshawar Zalmi from the Diamond Category of PSL 2020 draft.
In the Abu Dhabi T10 league playing for Lahore Qalandars he smashed an unbeaten 53 from 28 against Northern Warriors before going berserk against Karnataka Tuskers with an 80 made from only 28 balls highlighting his full range of shots( an innings which included nine fours and six sixes). With so much exposure to T20 leagues around the world, Banton's game is only going to get stronger and better as he faces world-class bowlers all around the world.
The good thing about Banton is that he can improvise effortlessly and the reason for that is he played both hockey and cricket till he was 17. This is what he had to say about his unconventional scoops and sweeps. "Obviously the reverse scoops or sweeps come from hockey. In training, I don't attempt to try and practice it is all more natural to me in the game. If the field is right I play these shots."
His ability to explore every corner of the ground has even been compared to AB de Villiers and Jos Buttler. His bent knee and the hunched stance as the bowler is about to release the ball and the way he opens up the onside have also made some compare his batting style to England legend Kevin Pietersen.
With all these comparisons being made at such a young age you have to admit 'Tom Banton' might be the next big thing in cricket. While certain people would argue that it might be putting too much pressure on the youngster at such an early age, from what we've seen of Banton so far he doesn't seem too fazed by this additional pressure instead he seems to be relishing it. With all this hype around him, if he is able to live up to half the 'expectations' in the IPL KKR would be mighty pleased with their newly 'acquired wonder kid'.