Kolkata: Stylish England wicket-keeper batsman Tom Banton, who was roped in by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), looked forward to playing alongside former under-19 World Cup rival Shubman Gill in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) starting next month in the UAE.
“I remember the Indians were a lot better than all of us in the (2018 Under-19) World Cup. I look up to those guys even now, and I am still good friends with some of them. Playing alongside Shubman at KKR will be pretty nice and I am really looking forward to it,” Banton said in an interview on kkr.in.
“I am particularly excited to play alongside Andre Russell and Pat Cummins. I watched Andre last year, and he played really well. Learning from someone like him will be really cool. There are a few guys of my age – (Shivam) Mavi, (Kamlesh) Nagarkoti and Shubman (Gill) – whom I have played against when I was younger. It would be great to see them again,” the 21-year-old Banton said.
The hockey player-turned cricketer, a man who loves to play innovative shots and intimidate his opposition with aggression, and a wicket-keeper batsman whose style of play has been constantly compared with England legend Kevin Pietersen, the multi-talented Banton said, “Being part of the IPL is something I have been dreaming of since a very young age. I have been watching IPL every year. I have literally been glued to the IPL from the very first games in the years when it started.”
When asked about Eoin Morgan’s leadership, Banton said, “He is an extremely positive person, no matter what. It’s nice to have him in the team, as he bats for his team. He has been playing for a long time and has a lot of experience. I remember my first match for England, I got out playing a shot. He came up to me and said ‘you don’t need to change what you are currently doing.’ It was really nice to hear that.”
The hockey player-turned cricketer loves to play innovative shots like reverse-slaps and scoops. He showed one such shot against Sam Curran in the Vitality Blast when he switched his grip and reverse-scooped for a six.
“I guess it probably comes from playing hockey. I was a drag flicker and used to play reverse there quite often.
My dad used to play hockey and I kind of followed his footsteps. I played hockey from the age of 3 till about 17. I was 16 years old, when things were getting more serious and I had to pick one sport and that’s when I chose cricket. Talking about the six, it was actually quite funny because Sam (Curran) came up to me after that ball and said something. I can’t tell you what. But yeah, I have spent a lot of time with him, so, it was a funny moment,” Banton said.
He said, “I would like to be reckoned as a batsman who has the wicket keeping abilities as a second option. I think this year, I wanted to focus a lot more on my batting. At the same time, I wan’t to continue working on my keeping skills. It’s been tricky this year. This winter has been hectic and I didn’t really have the time to stop and think about what I really wanted to do. But now, I definitely want to do both.”