Red Rose ace Buttler ready to lift England’s spirits

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler

Lancashire’s Jos Buttler is set to be embraced by more familiar surroundings this week following an encouraging return to England’s Test side.

Ed Smith’s first major decision as national selector was to end Buttler’s 18-month exile from the longest format, convinced he was too talented to be confined merely to the limited-overs disciplines.

Fresh from a scintillating stint in the Indian Premier League, an in-form Buttler rewarded Smith’s judgement with a man-of-the-match display at Headingley as England drew the two-Test series against Pakistan.

Confidence should therefore be oozing out his pores as England turn their attention towards five one-day internationals in 15 days against Australia.

Buttler has been a prominent, even pivotal, figure in England’s white-ball metamorphosis from also-rans to the top of the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings.

Series against Australia and India this summer should give England a clearer indication of how they are shaping up ahead of next year’s World Cup on home soil, for which they are strong contenders.

And England’s wicketkeeper-batsman is looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s a hugely exciting summer,” said Buttler, who is expected to return to the fold for Wednesday’s first ODI at The Oval after being rested for Sunday’s shock defeat Scotland in Edinburgh.

“Moving into the white-ball matches, we’ve been playing some really good stuff.

“We’ve got to No.1 in the world, and Australia and India at home are going to be two massive tests.

“It’s an exciting couple of months coming up.”

Buttler’s recent rise began in India, where he has sometimes struggled to impose himself on the world’s grandest T20 stage.

But a move from the middle order to opener acted as a catalyst and scores of 67, 51, 82, 95no and 94no for the Rajasthan Royals saw him equal Virender Sehwag’s IPL record of five consecutive half-centuries.

There were not too many dissenters to his Test recall but there was plenty of discussion about whether a lack of first-class cricket would hinder his chances of success. The early evidence suggests it will not.