Cow Corner

England’s secret weapon for the World T20

England will head to Sri Lanka to defend their World Twenty20 title in better spirits after a comprehensive series-levelling victory over South Africa, largely thanks to an absurd and wonderful innings from Jos Buttler.

Seizing the mantle of an '11-over specialist', the Somerset batsman bullied and bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 32 off just 10 balls in 16 minutes, with two fours and three sixes at a quite staggering strike rate of 320.

As Buttler strode off the field grinning broadly, the talk around the ground immediately switched to the World T20 - did someone call for an England batsman to step up?

England will bid to defend the title they won in the Caribbean without Kevin Pietersen and with an inexperienced batting line up, but Buttler had everyone leaving Edgbaston excitedly looking forward to seeing how the holders fare.

The 22-year-old from Taunton was far from guaranteed to occupy a middle-order berth in Sri Lanka before his scintillating knock, and his previous 10 T20s in an England shirt yielded just 36 runs altogether.

But the authority and confidence with which he took the game out of the tourists' reach on Wednesday evening now demands that he is selected for Stuart Broad's side's campaign.

From 67 domestic T20 matches, Buttler averages just over 23 at a strike rate of 132.90, but Somerset supporters will tell you that his statistics do not quite do justice to the immense talent of the man.

Buttler has regularly won limited-overs matches almost on his own for his county, and captain Broad and the other England players were not remotely surprised by his remarkable exploits.

Broad said of Buttler: "We've picked guys who can change the momentum of Twenty20 games, we knew we had hitters to come in and Jos played a game-changing innings. Tonight was awesome to see and a great confidence boost for the squad going to Sri Lanka.

"We've seen this fella do it for Somerset time and time again so to see him do it in an England shirt was brilliant. It pretty much won us the game. Jos was put at five because of the situation with only four overs to go and it paid off."

Buttler's belligerent blows should not leave anyone to conclude that he is simply a big-hitter, with the three precise and effective scoops for boundaries early in his innings giving just a taste of the audacious shots he is capable of to mix up his approach.

Another man who has starred for England in T20s this summer is Alex Hales, who has scored 121 at 60.5, while paceman Steven Finn has averaged 12.2 with the ball.

There is much for England supporters to be excited about ahead of the tournament, starting on September 18.

England have a warm-up match against Australia on Monday, with their first match at the World Twenty20 against Afghanistan following on September 21 at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The second group match comes against India two days later at the same venue.

AB de Villiers teed up the tournament nicely while assessing England's chances after last evening's contest.

"Their bowling line-up has been one of the best in the world for quite a few years now," he said. "I thought they did really well when they won the tournament in the Caribbean; that was probably down to bowlers, who had an amazing tournament. They certainly have a lot of talent, but so do a lot of other teams. May the best team win."

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It has not been the most auspicious summer for English cricket, and there are many reasons why that has been the case - one such reason has been the blistering form of Hashim Amla.

While England have been citing post-Kevin Pietersen depression, leadership flaws, captaincy instability and boardroom meddling as theories for why their form has dipped, Amla has been merrily racking up the runs.

It would be remiss of Cowers not to give Amla is due at the end of what has been a summer of utter dominance from the prolific 29-year-old, who averages 49.95 with the bat in Tests, and 59.55 in ODIs - both figures continue to rise steadily with every passing year.

An elegant strokeplayer blessed with the temperament to make the most of his supreme talent, Amla is often wrongly classed as a stoic presence at the crease, which is incredible form in both shortened forms of the game clearly belies.

Amla plundered over 1000 runs in both Tests and ODIs in 2010, and this year he became the first South African to score a triple century by making 311 not out against England at The Oval earlier in the summer. His career continues to flourish quite incredibly.

His statistics on this tour are enough to make any England supporter wince...

Test series: Five innings - 482 runs - 311 highest score - 120.50 average

ODI series: Four innings - 335 runs - 150 highest score - 111.66 average

Twenty20 series: Two innings - 83 runs - 47 not out highest score - 83 average

Hats off to you, Hashim - the England players in all forms of the game will be extremely pleased to have seen the back of you, for the time being at least.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "He wouldn't embarrass himself. In a charity game, he actually played against me and almost knocked my head off with a good competitive bouncer. It is nothing to take lightly. I don't see anything wrong." (Chris Gayle backs up Usain Bolt's self-promotion - he's a handy paceman, apparently...)

Enjoy the World Twenty20 with Eurosport-Yahoo! as England bid to defend their title from September 18 - October 7.