English butlers (with one T) are renowned for steadfast loyalty, forbearance and utmost discretion, with the possible, alleged, exception of Paul Burrell.
PG Wodehouse, conceived for many the very epitome of the English butler in Jeeves, retainer and confidante to Bertie Worcester. Wodehouse was himself an excellent cricketer and the character of Reginald Jeeves was inspired by bowler Percy Jeeves, whose wicket-taking exploits for Warwickshire would surely have seen him play for England, were he not to have been tragically lost to the First World War.
Said Worcester of his man: “Jeeves, of course, is a gentleman’s gentleman, not a butler, but if the call comes, he can buttle with the best of them.” And there they are, the two ts that bring to mind England’s Jos Buttler.
It’s been a far from regal start for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2021. Before today’s game, in which they beat the Knight Riders, they were propping up the table with just the one win, and a miserable run rate. Buttler himself has been decidedly hit and miss with scores of 25, 2, 49, 8 (and today only 5).
Bertie Worcester said of Jeeves: “My Aunt Agatha, in fact, has even gone so far as to call him my keeper. Well, what I say is: Why not? The man’s a genius.” Alas for Jos, he has not even been able to keep in this IPL as captain Sanju Samson has pulled rank on that role.
One wonders how cricketing Buttler Jos must be feeling as he watches his fellow English members of the Royals family head for home and leave him as the last man standing.
Jofra Archer’s IPL never got going at all, the legacy of a fish tank injury (possibly the first of those ever recorded in cricket history) coupled with a troublesome elbow. Just as the Duke of Sussex renounced his Royal(s) connections, Archer curtailed his and headed back to Sussex for his care and recuperation. The good news there, is that things seem to be going well and he may soon test his fitness wearing the Martlets jersey.
In the Royals very first match, Ben Stokes flung himself in typically selfless fashion to catch Chris Gayle, but broke a finger in the process. Although he had originally wanted to stay on, the need for surgery and 12 weeks’ recuperation meant he had to depart the Royals bubble and head back to Blighty.
The third of the English Royals to depart was Liam Livingstone, suffering from ten months’ cumulative bubble fatigue, perhaps exacerbated by lack of actually playing for either England or the Royals.
Kumar Sangakkara, the Rajasthan Royals coach, will undoubtedly be keeping a concerned and watchful eye on Jos Buttler’s wellbeing. If the Royal’s season were a whodunnit, it would not take a Poirot, Marple or Maigret to work out the likely next victim of the English Royals curse.
For Jos, his team, and indeed the tournament, we must all hope that the runs begin to flow and fortunes turn. Otherwise, what the Buttler sees may be the inside of a chartered 747 with an early ticket home.