Fourteen years ago, in May 2010, Phil Salt was a kid in the stands at Kensington Oval in Barbados, parading England cricketers their first piece of world silverware after victory over Australia in that year’s World T20 final. Saw doing it. Now he is back as an England star in his own right, looking to start his side’s defense of the same trophy at the same venue when they take on Scotland in Bridgetown on Tuesday morning.

By his own admission, Saltz is not back home to compete with Jofra Archer or Chris Jordan, two born-and-bred stalwarts in England’s expected starting XI. Nevertheless, after spending six formative years in Barbados – honing his love of cricket from the ages of nine to 15, while his father Chris worked as a property developer – he admits That this is an unusual turn of events.

“To come back here and have the opportunity to play for England at the World Cup is not something I ever thought I’d be doing, but it’s definitely very special,” Salt said. “Everything about the place suits me. Very relaxed, lots of cricket, lots of sports, lots of friends still on the island. I don’t think many people would disagree that living in Barbados is Touch, but yes, I liked it.”

Salt played a small role in England’s T20 World Cup win in Australia two years ago. After coming into the starting XI as a replacement for the injured David Mullan, he did not bat in the semi-final against India as Jos Buttler and Alex Hales secured a ten-wicket win, then scored 10 from 9 balls at No.3. . In a low-scoring final against Pakistan.

Now, however, his moment is high. Six months ago, he won his audition to be Buttler’s regular opening partner with back-to-back centuries against the West Indies in Grenada and Trinidad, then at a pivotal point in Kolkata Knight Riders’ recent IPL victory. Scored with 290 runs. Scored runs off 144 balls in five innings, including 89 not out off 47 balls against Lucknow Supergiants.

Salt has always had the ability to start the innings strongly – two years ago, he made his T20I debut (incidentally, also at Bridgetown) with a 24-ball 57. And yet, he admits that his game has gone to a new level in recent months, to the extent that he enters the tournament as one of the most dangerous batsmen.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “The opportunity to gain more experience in international cricket has definitely been the biggest part of it in my own mind. I’ve also looked at where I’m strong, where I’m not, used analysis, which has helped me a lot. Learned. Coaches, to do those moves in my game.

“I can’t put my finger on one thing, but it’s probably a change of mindset, that I want to be more of a match-winner for England. You like to think that (people fear you) as an opening. As a batsman, but the moment you recognize that and you start thinking, ‘I’m the big man’, the game always cuts you, I try to be about something like that. Don’t think and take it one ball at a time.”

Another important aspect of his development, he says, has been the opportunity to bat with his England captain in the Hundred – an alliance that has been instrumental in Manchester Originals reaching the final for two years running. In 2022, Salt’s 353 runs in ten innings was second only to Malan (377), while his 232 the following year may be dwarfed by Buttler’s 391, but at a strike rate of 194.95. Came.

The pair responded to their antics with an opening stand of 82 in 6.2 overs against Pakistan at The Oval on Thursday – England’s final warm-up before the Scotland clash. Although Salt admits it took some time for their partnership to click, he feels the dynamic is the same now as he was at Vitality Blast with his former Sussex captain, and now England selector, Luke Wright. had taken

“(Luke) liked to get a few balls. My role at that point was just to get us to a flyer,” Salt said. “It probably put me in good stead to bat with someone like Jos.

“We have different styles. In my career I’ve always been aggressive and I think I’m aggressive at the start of this partnership. I think we both showed that very well the other night at The Oval. I didn’t get a flyer, but we kind of hung up and then the juice went and then we dovetailed.

“It’s good because we both communicate a lot out there and we realize that when one goes, we give the other person a strike, so there’s no ego involved. It’s who goes first. We just communicate and it sounds easy, but I’ve batted with a lot of people and that’s not always the case when you have that connection with your partner.”

It remains to be seen whether this is a partnership that can take England to a third T20 World Cup title. But, for Salt, when they won for the first time in 2010, it was again an opening partnership that laid the foundation for everything that followed. As the impressionable young man in the stands remembers well.

“Craig Kesswetter was definitely a (role model),” Salt recalled of the Somerset opener who featured alongside Michael Limb, after the pair were hastily brought together on the eve of the tournament, and the match. Participated in the winning half. A century in the final

“He was a bit of an unknown at the time and then he came out, and I was in awe of him. I thought he was brilliant, he took some unbelievable catches and the way he played, he was definitely the guy. I tried to model. I had seen a lot of good cricket here like Chris Gayle… When I was a kid, whoever hit the ball hard, I would watch it on YouTube and try. “Imitate them.”

And though he played down any similarities between the class of 2010 and the team he’s fronting for now, Salt recalled the highlight of his day in that original final. If he emulates her this time, he will indeed have fulfilled his childhood dream.

“Coley (Paul Collingwood) walked through the stands here – Hall and Griffiths where I was sitting up there watching the final – with the trophy and said, ‘Here, touch it while you can’. So, I got a touch. That’s the thing that always sticks with me when I think about that day.”

Andrew Miller is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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