Lancashire’s Jos Buttler is coming of age in England’s Test side, and the mould-breaking gloveman insists there is still plenty more for him to offer in time for the Ashes.
Entering the Test arena almost a year ago against India, it was hard to know what to expect from a 23-year-old with an already glowing one-day record.
But three fifties in his last five tests – including a stand-out 73 in England’s otherwise dismal second-innings batting display at Headingley last Tuesday – and a Test average currently standing at over 52 shows that Buttler could well have a huge role to play when the Ashes start in five weeks’ time.
And rather than emulating former England hero Alec Stewart, who plied his trade from the top of the order while keeping wicket, Buttler sees himself more in the mould of Matt Prior and is relishing the diversity batting at No.7 offers.
“I think I understood my one-day game a lot better than I did red-ball cricket to start with,” said Buttler, who today launched Royal London’s summer of cricket, which includes the first Royal London One-Day International, starting today against New Zealand.
“For a long time I saw them as two different games, whereas now I’m trying to just play one game and have the same kind of mindset.
“That seems to have given me a lot more success, and given where I bat in the side you have to be ready to face a variety of different situations.
“Sometimes we might be 400-5 and you have the licence to go out and play exciting cricket, or at 100-5 and you need to either counter-attack or dig in.
“Then there are times you are trying to save the game, and as I’ve matured I’ve begun to enjoy those situations understand them more as well.
“I’ve added some maturity to my game in terms of being able to change paces of playing, and knowing what my strike-rate should be.
“The Test game ebbs and flows as well – someone may bowl very well at you or you may come up against someone you really want to attack, and you need to understand that flow.”
Buttler’s wicketkeeping credentials were questioned on his Test arrival, having served primarily as Craig Kieswetter’s deputy in his time at Somerset.
But his 2013 move to Lancs transformed him into a frontline county gloveman, and he believes his improvement shows he can be the long-term successor to Prior behind the stumps under new England coach Trevor Bayliss.
He said: “I’m a work in progress with the gloves. I know that and I made the move to Lancashire in order to keep wicket more.
“My biggest frustration is that I’m not 35 years old and have 400 games of wicket-keeping to fall back on – I’m still learning.”
Jos Buttler was speaking at the launch of the Royal London Gilbert Cup, a new grassroots U11 cricket tournament. www.royallondoncricket.com