Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Phil Salt’s problem was that we had only seen a pinch of him.

Cameos of 45 off 28 balls and 21 off 15 in England’s ODI series defeat to West Indies and then a 20-ball 40 in the opening T20 international. Swift starts but no more.

That was perhaps why Salt was overlooked during Tuesday’s Indian Premier League auction, a snub he called “confusing” after scoring two fifties for Delhi Capitals in the 2023 edition.

Salt’s 109 from 56 balls in Saturday’s third T20 against West Indies could not convince IPL franchises to raise their paddles for him.

But his 119 from 57 deliveries in the fourth T20 two days later must surely make him a contender to get an IPL call-up should an overseas player be struck down between now and March.

[My form] is very satisfying. The tweaks I have made the last six months have been mental approach more than anything. It is good I am seeing the rewards. [Head coach] Matthew Mott said after my first hundred that it is a habit and when you break that ceiling and you get used to it hopefully you can do it again.

England’s Phil Salt

As Salt peppered 10 sixes and seven fours on Tuesday night – helping England to their record T20I score of 267 and himself to the highest total by an Englishman in the format, eclipsing Alex Hales’ 116 – those IPL sides were probably thinking they had missed a trick.

“It was probably a little bit of it, subconsciously,” said Salt on whether his Trinidad ton was inspired by his IPL rejection.

The 27-year-old has been the key figure in England turning the T20 series around. From 2-0 down they are now back at 2-2 and looking forward to Thursday’s decider, also in Trinidad.

A decider looked a distant dream for England after they were overpowered by West Indies’ six-hitters in the first two games – they managed six maximums in the series opener compared to the hosts’ 14 and then eight in the second as the home side plundered 13.

Then, at the halfway stage of the third fixture, England were staring 3-0 in the face as West Indies crashed 16 sixes in a monster total of 222-6. Since then, though, it has been one-way traffic with England, and Salt in particular, in the driving seat.

Salt smoked nine sixes on Saturday as England reached their target with a ball to spare and then upped that tally by one on Tuesday as he became only the second man from a full-member nation, after South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw, to hit T20I tons in successive matches. His 10 maximums were an England record in a T20I innings.

While Salt was particularly punishing over the leg-side, he took immense pride in scoring runs the other side of the wicket, too.

“I’ve worked specifically on hitting sixes over the off-side. I’ve always been good at hitting the sight screen and going over the leg-side.

“When Jason Holder took the pace off wide and I hit it over the off-side, something [captain] Jos (Buttler) said to me was ‘teams can’t bowl to you’. That’s an area I’ve been working on for a good while so it’s good to see it’s working.”

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Salt has clubbed 19 sixes across his last two innings in the Caribbean

Salt has outshone Buttler during rollicking opening stands of 115 from 69 balls and 117 from 59 in recent days and then gone on to tonk hundreds after his skipper fell in the fifties.

Ex-West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite – a fine six-hitter himself, of course – said on TNT Sports: “You would have to say Salt has single-handedly dragged the batting performances up another level.

“The West Indies bowling attack have not been able to dispose of him or stop his striking. He is doing it consistently and has overshadowed a legend of the game in Buttler.”

Salt looks increasingly nailed on to open for England in the T20 World Cup in West Indies and USA next June, despite the fact Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes will probably return to the XI somewhere, while he seems set for a run in their ODI side, too, as Buttler’s team rebound from the dismal World Cup showing in India.

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Jason Roy (pictured) was England’s white-ball tone-setter but Salt has now taken on that role

During England’s white-ball revolution after the 2015 World Cup debacle, Jason Roy was instrumental at the top of the order as the tone-setter.

It was not always the amount of runs he scored but the way he struck them, putting opposition bowling attacks on the backfoot immediately.

That role now appears to be Salt’s with his ODI strike-rate 133.40 and his T20I strike-rate 165.66 after those back-to-back centuries in the shortest format.

He has helped England to back-to-back wins and will now be looking to help his side to a series victory on Thursday – and once again show IPL teams exactly what they have missed out on.

Follow England’s series-deciding fifth T20 international against West Indies across skysports.com and the Sky Sports App on Thursday with our live blog. Build-up begins at 7.30pm ahead of the first ball at 8pm in Trinidad.

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The post Phil Salt smashes century after ‘confusing’ IPL snub and transforms England’s fortunes in Caribbean appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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