ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in-hand, local boy Jos Buttler took his most prized possession back to where it began for all to see.
The ECB Winners’ Trophy Tour sees some of England’s World Cup heroes return to their roots in an effort to turn the nation’s cricketing fever into a legacy, to make the most of an unforgettable summer of the sport.
And for Buttler, that meant a trip back to Cheddar for a day of coaching, questions and selfies as all ages piled in to bend the ear of the man who whipped off Martin Guptill’s bails to seal that impossible triumph back in July.
But gazing out over the Mendips, hills that watched on as a prodigal Buttler got his first taste of the senior game at the tender age of 12, the now 29-year-old became misty-eyed as he traced his journey from village green to Lord’s.
“These were my first memories of cricket really,” he said.
“My older brother was playing here and I’d come along and be running around the edge looking for someone to throw a ball with me.
“Then my mum ended up running one of the teams, so great memories. I think those early memories are where you start to love the game.
“It’s the purest form of cricket really; you’re just playing for enjoyment with your mates. Coming back here, it all comes flying back.”
Two sets of World Cup winners and a whole generation who we want to inspire to say ‘Cricket is a game for me’. Really important that every child – boy or girl - knows they can pick up a bat or ball and start playing the game. #InspiringGenerations pic.twitter.com/9uaHJ88noK— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) October 8, 2019
With local kids participating in an evening of coaching sessions from Buttler, before getting their chance to pick his brains in a Q&A, it was a day packed full of promise for the next generation of Cheddar’s cricketers.
Flanking their kids every step of the way were a phalanx of proud parents, watching on as their children got the chance to meet a World Cup hero.
And looking back over his nascent days in the sport, Buttler touched on the importance of that support network, one that proved truly vital in his own development.
“She was the coach running the team, so some long drives home from matches asking me why I played a stupid shot, telling me to keep it on the floor,” he said of his own mother, Patricia.
“She’s a bit like Bob Willis on The Debate: tough school! I think coming back here, you start to piece together the journey from here to winning the World Cup, and the time and effort that your parents put in, and other parents in the team, the sacrifices they make to really give the opportunity to make a start.
“It’s just to have fun and play cricket, but it gains traction on and on and really hits home that this is where it all started.
“The point I’m at now, you realise just how much influence and effort and opportunity that your parents and people early on give you.”
To find out where to play cricket in your local area, head to ecb.co.uk/play