Buttler raced to a century against New Zealand??in just 66 balls on Tuesday, after Joe Root had done so in 71, as England went 1-0 up in the Royal London Series on Tuesday with a record-breaking 210-run win.
That is the biggest runs margin of victory ever for England in 50-over cricket, after they also hit their first 400-plus total in the format.
Buttler’s contribution was key, in a record seventh-wicket stand with Adil Rashid, after England had suffered a mid-innings wobble – including the departure of Root.
Invited afterwards to compare himself with De Villiers, England’s vice-captain said: “I’m not sure I’m quite at those guys’ level yet.
“AB de Villiers is someone who has been a role model for me for a long period of time – someone who has changed batting, I think, over the past few years – and everyone is trying to emulate him.
“That’s the role I want to play in English cricket.
“I want to be that guy who can go out like I did and play those kind of innings and try to do that consistently.”
England’s trouncing of the Kiwis was a remarkable reversal in fortune after their eight-wicket defeat against the subsequent World Cup finalists in their last meeting in Wellington in February.
Eoin Morgan’s team have since resolved to play more aggressive cricket, following their embarrassing early exit from last winter’s global tournament.
Buttler insists England were off the pace back then not just because their tactics were wrong but also as a result of being collectively out of form and low on confidence.
“It wasn’t through lack of trying before – it’s not as if we wanted to play (like) that,” he said. “We weren’t playing well enough.”