Chris Tremlett: Buttler can ignite England's batting
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Jos Buttler’s recall to England’s Test squad was a controversial selection in some ways but England have been crying out for a player who can ignite things and bring more positivity to their batting.
Buttler was included in England’s 12-man party – the first of Ed Smith’s tenure as national selector – for next week’s opening international clash of the summer against Pakistan at Lord’s, having last played Test cricket in December 2016.
The 27-year-old has been in sparkling form for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, scoring five consecutive half-centuries, but has not played red-ball cricket for Lancashire since the backend of last season.
Critics of his selection will question what the point is of players amassing thousands of runs in county cricket each season when someone who has predominantly featured in the white-ball formats gets picked ahead of them.
Equally, there will be players churning out an impressive volume of runs in the County Championship year in, year out and not getting a look in and they’ll be thinking: ‘what more can I do?’. That stance is fair.
However, sometimes you have to look beyond County Championship runs. Consistency domestically ought to be a factor in selection but it’s also about who can cope with top-level pressure, who can face 90mph bowling and who can cope with world-class spin.
You don’t face amazingly high-quality spin bowling on a regular basis in the county game and many seamers bowl at around 80mph, so it’s a different type of cricket in the Test arena and you have to think outside of the box.
Buttler is world class and one of the best one-day players on the planet. If he can get it together in Test cricket – he currently averages 31 from his 18 matches – then he can offer something very special.
It’s also vital that England give him a role which suits him. He’s still vulnerable when the ball is swinging around but he’s lethal when it is not doing as much, the pitch is a flatter and he can just go out and play his natural game. For me, it’s an exciting selection.
Hampshire’s James Vince, meanwhile, has been dropped. He scored an unbeaten double century against Somerset at Taunton earlier this week but it was too little, too late.
He’s such a frustrating cricketer. He has big scores in him, although too often he comes to the crease and looks good, but then makes the same mistake; he’ll nick off outside off-stump playing the big drive.
I don’t think it’s necessarily the end of Vince in red-ball international cricket and I’m sure he’ll feature in the limited-overs side but I think his temperament has to change if he is take the next step in the Test environment.
The rest of the squad is as expected, although it will be interesting to see how uncapped off-spinner Dominic Bess, 20, who has already taken some big hauls in his fledgling career, gets on if given the nod.
It may be too soon for him but sometimes it can be good to throw someone in at the deep end and see what they’re made of. It can go one of two ways, but it will certainly be a test of character.
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