For KKR’s Tom Banton, hockey could be the secret to IPL success

The English cricketer made his IPL debut this week, opening the innings against RCB.

By Utathya Nag ·

In his bid to shine for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, English wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Banton will be drawing heavily from his training as a hockey player.

Tom Banton is known for his heavy-hitting style, with his unconventional arsenal of cricketing shots making the right-hander a dangerous prospect in the shorter formats of the game. Among Banton’s repertoire of audacious strokes is his signature reverse scoop.

A difficult stroke to execute, the reverse scoop involves a change in grip like the reverse sweep before swatting the ball for a boundary over third man. Banton has perfected the shot and revealed that hockey drag flick training has helped him polish the technique.

“It (the shot) 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,” Banton said in an interview to the official KKR website.

“I played hockey from the age of three 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,” he added.

Banton, in fact, used to play centre forward for the England U-17 hockey team at one point. Banton’s dad Colin Banton, too, played hockey but switched to play first class cricket for Nottinghamshire and Buckinghamshire.

English cricketer Tom Banton plays for KKR in IPL 2020.

The switch from hockey to cricket has turned out well for the 21-year-old Tom Banton, who is currently a full-fledged England international and has turned up with notable performances for Somerset in the Natwest T20 Blast and Brisbane Heat in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL).

In the 2019-20 T20 Blast, Banton was the second-highest scorer with 549 runs from 13 matches. KKR came calling in the IPL 2020 Draft and the Englishman recently made his IPL debut against Royal Challengers Bangalore. He scored eight runs opening the innings with Shubman Gill.

In hindsight, Banton isn’t the first cricketer to have incorporated elements of hockey to supplement his cricketing skill set. Banton’s fellow English wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler’s signature ramp shot, too, was inspired by his time playing hockey growing up.