Talented English batsman Tom Banton, who impressed with his performances for Somerset in last year's T20 Blast, is looking forward to learn from star West Indies allrounder Andre Russell during his Kolkata Knight Riders stint in the upcoming IPL.
Banton, who scored 549 runs from 13 matches at a strike rate of 161.47 in 2019 Vitality Blast, was bought by the Kolkata franchise for Rs 1 crore for the IPL which begins in the UAE on September 19.
"I'm particularly excited to play alongside Andre Russell and Pat Cummins. I watched Andre last year, and he played really well. Learning from someone like him will be really cool," Banton, who made his England debut in New Zealand and played in three T20Is, was quoted as saying in kkr.in.
Russell was the Most Valuable Player of IPL 2019, scoring 510 runs from 13 innings, averaging 56.66. He also picked up 11 wickets.
The 21-year-old Banton said he's also excited to be with the likes of Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shubman Gill, whom he has played against in his U-19 days.
"There are a few guys of my age (Shivam) Mavi, (Kamlesh) Nagarkoti and Shubman (Gill) - whom I have played against when I was younger. It would be great to see them again."
Banton played in the same U-19 World Cup in which Shubman was adjudged Man of the Tournament.
"I remember the Indians were a lot better than all of us in the (2018 Under-19) World Cup. I look up to those guys even now, and I am still good friends with some of them. Playing alongside Shubman at KKR will be pretty nice and I am really looking forward to it," he said.
"Honestly, just being part of the IPL is something I have been dreaming of since a very young age. I have been watching IPL every year. I have literally been glued to the IPL from the very first games in the years when it started."
The hockey player-turned cricketer loves to play innovative shots like reverse-slaps and scoops. He showed one such shot against Sam Curran in the Vitality Blast when he switched his grip and reverse-scooped for a six.
"I guess it probably comes from playing hockey. I was a drag flicker and used to play reverse there quite often. My dad used to play hockey and I kind of followed his footsteps," Banton, who played hockey from the age of three, said.
"I was 16-year-old, when things were getting more serious and I had to pick one sport and that's when I chose cricket."
The tall youngster has drawn regular comparisons with former England captain Kevin Pietersen.
"He (Pietersen) is one of the greatest players to have played from England. I have watched him while growing up and he was definitely an idol of mine. But honestly, I don't like to think so much, otherwise you get too far ahead of yourself," he said.