After several years in the wrong gear, Jos Buttler has FINALLY found the right tempo with the bat after his career-best century against Pakistan
- Jos Buttler scored a career-best 152 against Pakistan in the second Test
- He has struggled at times in the past few years and behind the stumps recently
- However he has looked better since being promoted to No6 against West Indies
Jos Buttler spoke about payback earlier this month after accounting for a catalogue of reprieves to opposition batsmen with a match-winning performance with the bat. On Saturday, he majestically moved into credit.
His previous completed innings of 75 against Pakistan in Manchester, where he gifted Shan Masood two lives, had brought England back from the brink. Here, he helped set up the chance for a 2-0 series win with another brilliant innings.
During this biosecure summer, Ben Foakes, widely accepted to be the best gloveman in the country, has cast a menacing shadow on Buttler’s future from within the England bubble.
Jos Buttler looks like he has found the right tempo with the bat since being promoted to No 6
The England man admits that he ‘has to be better’ behind the stumps to keep his spot there
Buttler, who also allowed West Indies match winner Jermaine Blackwood to escape with just 20 of his eventual 95 runs at the Ageas Bowl, was candid enough to admit that to continue behind the stumps in the Test team he had ‘to be better’.
And nowhere is the focus on wicketkeeping magnified like it is in Asia, the continent where England are due to play their next two Test series in early 2021.
‘A few weeks ago, I was probably thinking I was about to get dropped. So it just proved to me how you are never far away,’ Buttler said. ‘Having that positive outlook that I can do good things has served me well.’
Reprieved on 99 after an overturned review of Richard Illingworth’s decision to give him out caught behind when the ball struck his pad, he went on to hit his highest first-class score. His previous of 144 also came at the Ageas Bowl.
Buttler scored a career-best 152, forming a partnership with the young star Zak Crawley
The 29-year-old finally appears to have settled on a Test match batting tempo after several years of finding himself in the wrong gear. When he was recalled two years ago, it was as a specialist batsman.
However, with two all-rounders in Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow holding down places in the top six, it was an indulgent selection to ask Buttler to go in at No 7.
It was a role that did not necessarily suit him. There were instances of him shepherding the tail, others of him being dismissed when trying to advance the team cause and even a period last year when he became preoccupied with defence.
This summer, he took his barren spell without a Test 50 to 14 innings — the longest such stretch by an England wicketkeeper-batsman since 2013.
However, since being promoted one place to No 6 for the must-win third Test versus West Indies, something has clicked.
Buttler was given a reprieve on 99 after he was erroneously given out caught behind
Buttler is arguably England’s most gifted limited-overs ball striker and when he came to the fore, it was his sense of when to launch the offensive that made him stand out amongst his international peers.
There has been plenty of patience and restraint, although it was a counter-attack with Chris Woakes in challenging conditions at Emirates Old Trafford a fortnight ago that allowed England to head into the final match of this series with their noses in front.
He has shown the character to address his problems with the bat and cement his place. Now, the bigger challenge of keeping to spin on the subcontinent lies ahead.