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Butler celebrates a happy comeback to Mohali

Otago pacer bowls match-winning 2/23 on his only Indian Test venue

In 2003, Ian Butler played his first and only Test on Indian soil, at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. Fast forward a decade and the lanky New Zealander found himself on that very ground, this time, as part of the Otago Volts team for CLT20 2013.

A smile dons his face at the mention of that Test and in a nostalgic tone he says, “Oh, that was a long time ago!” This was after he helped the Volts beat the Faisalabad Wolves in the first Qualifier of the CLT20 2013 with figures of 2/23 in four overs.

His wickets included the top two run-scorers of the Wolves line-up – their eternal anchor, Misbah-ul-Haq (46) and one-down, Khurram Shahzad (27).

When Butler did in Misbah with a slower one right into the blockhole, he ensured the Wolves did not get past the 150-run mark. Brendon McCullum then did the rest, by smashing an unbeaten 83 (off 65 balls) to chase down 140.

In a short chat with clt20.com, Butler spoke about his cricketing journey from being a tearaway fast bowler on his Test debut in 2002 to developing himself as a handy all-rounder. He also fondly talked about the Otago Volts and warned the other teams against taking the seemingly inexperienced side lightly.

Excerpts from his chat:

Was the team delighted to learn that the Qualifiers will be played at the venue with perhaps the fastest wicket in India?

Yes, we were. However, today was a bit slower than we expected, but the guys just put in a cracking show. We bowled really well and were really happy with the score. Bazz (Brendon McCullum) obviously played amazingly well. An eight-wicket win – you can’t complain.

How was the journey from being a genuinely quick bowler to a handy all-rounder now?

I think I am a better cricketer now. When I started out, I just bowled as quick as I could. But when you miss two years of cricket due to injury, you realize how much the game means to you. That’s when you do everything you can to keep playing the game.

How tough is it to cut down a few yards of pace despite knowing you are capable of bowling faster?

It’s frustrating. The batsmen these days are so good and when they hit you for a six, you wish you could bowl a quick bouncer. But you’ve got to find other ways to get a satisfactory result. A good yorker is as effective as a good bouncer sometimes.

What is your role in the team this tournament? Are you playing as an all-rounder or more of a bowler?

At the moment, we have such a good batting line-up that I don’t really get a chance to bat. It’s frustrating because I love batting as much as bowling. In this format, my role is more dominant with the ball, so I really need to step up on that.

What do you make of the perceived inexperience of the Otago Volts squad in these conditions?

Even though we are a young side and the guys are inexperienced, they have actually played a lot of cricket. The young guys certainly aren’t overawed by the conditions and the occasion and they know that the conditions are no excuse. We’ve got to play spin bowling well and work out how to go about things when the batsman is set because there are going to be a lot of high scores in this tournament.

How do approach bowling in this format?

Bowling in T20 is all about mastering different skills so that you can bring them out whenever the situation calls for it. At times, you’ll be asked to keep bowling wide yorkers, slow yorkers, slow bouncers, and you should be able to deliver them when it matters.

This team is one of the best teams that I have ever played in. We have so much depth that some of our quality batsmen don’t even get to bat. It’s something we can’t take for granted though. We’ve had a good run now and eventually we’re going to lose. But until then, we just have to keep taking one game at a time and keep improving.

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