Ian Butler: 'I don't think I've ever bowled as well as I
have this year.'
Anyone considering giving up on a long-cherished sporting
ambition should have a chat with Ian Butler.
He clearly remembers the conversation several years ago with
a medical specialist who told him he would not bowl again.
''You don't believe everything the medical profession tell
you,'' he said yesterday.
The Otago seamer is back after a two-year absence from the
New Zealand team for the twenty/20 rubber against England,
which has its second instalment at Seddon Park in Hamilton
He is 31, has gone through significant injury setbacks in a
career which began 11 years ago, and yet he reckons he is
bowling as well as ever for Otago.
His 36 Plunket Shield wickets are second only to another
seasoned performer, Northern Districts' Brent Arnel, and he
was a key figure in Otago's HRV Cup triumph this summer with
11 wickets and an economy rate of 7.4 per over.
''My form's been really good all year in all forms. I don't
think I've ever bowled as well as I have this year, and you
never really lose sight of what you want to achieve,'' Butler
''My body is 10 times better than when I was 23. I look after
it a hell of a lot better now. I try and tell people age is
just a number. I still feel I've got four or five years left.
''I'm doing the right things off the park and certainly don't
feel I'm anywhere near finishing.''
Butler was counted out of the opening game in the ANZ
international series, a 40-run win for England at Eden Park
last Saturday, by a minor ankle niggle.
If he plays tonight it will complete a comeback which is
thoroughly justified by the simple expedient that he is among
the best seamers going around the country, and hits a long
ball as a late-order bonus.
Butler reckons the big change for him this year was from
being an into-the-wind ''dot'' ball bowler to chasing
He has dialled his speed back from his youth, but still rates
himself about 140kmh.
It's all a far cry from the disillusioning times over the
past 10 years, including the day his pen was poised to sign
on the dotted line for an unnamed English county.
He thought hard about using his British passport and jacking
in New Zealand cricket.
Otago, as it ponders the Champions League later this year, is
grateful he had a late change of heart.
Butler is confident New Zealand will be on its game tonight
after a poor bowling and fielding performance at Eden Park.
''T20 is a game where one or two players can take the game
away from you and we've got as many match-winners as they
- The New Zealand Herald