Nottinghamshire v Somerset, Trent Bridge, 4th day September 27, 2013

Buttler confirms Somerset departure


Somerset 372 (Hildreth 161, Compton 87, Gurney 5-81) and 101 for 1 (Jones 55*) drew with Nottinghamshire 406 (Hussey 125, Lumb 107, Thomas 4-103) and 298 (Mullaney 59, Taylor 55, Read 52*, Trego 4-69)

Somerset may have avoided relegation, but they have been unable to retain the services of their outstanding young England wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler.

Buttler, a 23-year-old who has developed through the club's youth system, confirmed hours after the season finished the news that many Somerset supporters had long feared: he is to leave the club to pursue opportunities elsewhere. It is highly likely to be confirmed within days that he will join Lancashire, with an announcement expected on Wednesday.

Buttler had little realistic choice. With his opportunities of keeping wicket at Somerset blocked by Craig Kieswetter, himself a young man with genuine international aspirations, he had to decide whether to concentrate on a future as a specialist batsman or leave the club.

"Both Jos and the club have worked extremely hard over the last few months to find a solution, which satisfies Jos's understandable desire to have more time behind the stumps in order to advance his international career," Somerset's chief executive, Guy Lavender, said. "I would like to make it clear that he has behaved impeccably during this difficult process.

"However the Club, on a matter of principle and pragmatism, feels unable to offer a guarantee to Jos - or any other player - of selection in their preferred role. Such a situation would be unfair on team-mates as well as those selecting the side. We thank Jos for all he has done for the club and wish him well in the future."

Buttler said he was "very sad to be leaving Somerset" but needed to pursue opportunities that would help his development as a wicketkeeper. Buttler is currently the man in possession of the gloves for England in both limited-overs formats.

"I am immensely grateful for all the help and support that everyone at Somerset has given me which has shaped the player and person I am today," he said. "I would like to wish the club the best of luck for the future."

In a perfect world, Buttler's last game for Somerset might have ended in a more exciting fashion. The sun had helped bring a decent crowd to Trent Bridge and there might, with some imagination, have been a target set of around 300 in 60 overs. But both sides were wearied by recent struggles and no such conversation took place. Instead the season ebbed, in Marcus Trescothick's words to "a quiet draw".

It says much for the strength of promotion and relegation that it took until the last day of the season to endure a meaningless day of cricket. In the bad, old days, they were far less unusual.

Trescothick scotched any suggestion that he may now retire. His second-innings dismissal - pulling a short ball to midwicket to give Brett Hutton a memorable maiden first-class victim - meant he had gone through the season without a first-class century for the first time since 1998.

"I'm very glad this season is over," he said. "But nothing has changed. I still want to play until I'm 40."

He wants to continue as captain, too. Talk from inside the club suggests that Kieswetter will be appointed, in at least one format, ahead of next season, but if that is the plan, nobody has told Trescothick.

"I want to continue as captain," he said. "It's out of my hands what the club decide, but I want to carry on.

"It's been a disappointing year. We've been very poor and very inconsistent in Championship cricket. We've let ourselves down in comparison with what we've done in previous years. We've not scored the volume of runs or bowled as well as we can. In the end, we've held on by the skin of our teeth."

He compared Dave Nosworthy, the director of cricket who arrived at the start of the season, to David Moyes - Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchster United FC - and admitted the club were in "a transitional period".

"There's bound to be a bit of change," he said. "You've seen it with David Moyes. It's people picking up new things, running in different directions. Eventually that will gel together."

Trescothick did have praise for some of the younger players, though. He agreed Jamie Overton was the most promising fast bowler Somerset had possessed since Andy Caddick - maybe even the best since Sir Ian Botham - and suggested he had the raw talent to be "as good as Allan Donald".

"I've seen and played against the best," Trescothick said. "And he has the calibre and quality to be that good. The world is his oyster, really. If you could mould fast bowlers, you would end up with Jamie Overton. He has all the attributes to be a great fast bowler. Yes, he has the raw potential to turn himself into someone like Allan Donald."

Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket, also admitted his team's Championship season had been disappointing. Indeed, Newell told the BBC that it was "fairly obvious" to him after just "two or three games" that Notts weren't good enough to win the Championship. While he did not communicate those views to the side, he did decide early on to prioritise the limited-overs formats.

"We have lost a lot of wicket-takers and experience in recent years," Newell said. "The likes of Mark Ealham, Greg Smith and Darren Pattinson. We may well look at bringing in a bowler as overseas player next year. Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney have ended up carrying the bowling attack. I think if we could bring in a bit more quality and get Andre Adams fit and Ajmal Shahzad producing a little bit more of what he should be doing then we'd maybe have five or six seamers who can get us a little bit higher up the league."

There was some good news for Notts, though. Chris Read, a beacon of excellence at Trent Bridge for so long, confirmed that he would remain with the club despite now being out of contract. The half-century he scored on the final day here was only the second of, by his lofty standards, a disappointing season with the bat. But he showed in the YB40 final what a fine batsman he remains and there are few keepers anywhere in the world who can better his glove work.

It remains to be seen whether he retains the captaincy. Michael Lumb may well take over, in one format at least, depending on how his discussions with the club about his availability to play in the IPL progress.

Newell stands by his decision to prevent his players - particular Alex Hales, who Newell said could receive a "life-changing" sum of money by appearing - participating in the IPL this year, but accepted there had been negative repercussions. He also admitted he may take a different view next year.

"I don't regret that decision," he said. "But it's not set in stone. Part of Alex Hales' troubles [he was dropped from the Championship side due to poor form] may have been due to that decision and his own disappointment."

Another disappointed man was Samit Patel. He went into the last session of the season requiring the wicket of one top-six batsman to finish as the FTI Most Valuable Player of the Year and win a £10,000 cheque. He was unable to do so, however, leaving Worcestershire's Moeen Ali as the victor.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robert on September 30, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    So it is official - Jos is going to Lancashire. A sad day for Somerset but good luck Jos.

  • Robert on September 30, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    An excellent and perceptive summary Juiceoftheapple. Like it or not Somerset are regarded (by people that matter) as a second rate cricketing County and until we can retain such talents as Buttler then we will do well shake off that label. Fridays announcement has dealt a significant blow to us.

  • Simon on September 29, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    Optic I'm sorry that you feel that I am selfish bemoaning that one of the most talented young Somerset players of the last 50 years has left the club, and perhaps you missed the fact I said that I'm fed up with everyone, not just Enlgand for their part with Giles chipping away at Jos. I'm fed up Craig Overton and Adam Dibble arent in the side due to overseas born players, I'm fed up with Brian Rose being at Glamorgan, I'm fed up we dont have proper coaches, I'm fed up the situation with Craig couldnt be resolved to everyones absolute satisfaction, but all of that is Ok in my book, as long as we dont lose our best young home grown player. And I dont recall any Yorkshireman having to move clubs to try to make themselves test internationals, so its not the same. Time behind the stumps doesnt matter as much as batting. England have a huge amount of time with Jos to develop his WK skills. England contributed to his move. I dont have to be happy about it. Infact I'm not, far from it.

  • Samuel on September 29, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Mixed emotions. Wanted him to stay but realise the situation is difficult, & I think Peter Moores will bring the best out of him if he moves to Lancs. It'll be a bittersweet day for me when he wins his first Test cap; I'll be proud a product of Somerset is taking the field for England, but a little sad he won't be doing it as a Somerset player. Good luck Jos. No doubt, in terms of business sense, it'll be a decent decision - we're likely to see much more of Kiesy than Buttler in the long run - but as much as I admire Kies, I just think we've lost a little bit of our soul with this. Something imperceptible.

    @landl47 - one thing I'll say for Jos is that he's starting from a much higher base than Bairstow or Kieswetter; you can tell he actually has a natural aptitude for the gloves, as opposed to being a batsman being made into a keeper. Odd how Bairstow's seen as Prior's back-up, as I think he's comfortably the worst keeper of the lot under MP: Jos, Kies, Davies and Foakes all better.

  • david on September 29, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    its funny how so many of our overseas contributors all have an opinion of Buttler that he a better batter than is is a wicketkeeper etc. my question is how do you know what he is. the majority of English supporters i guess would not know just which box they would put him in, but others can tell us all about him.

  • Robert on September 29, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    I may need some help here guys but are Somerset the only professional County without full time (or even part time for that matter!) batting & bowling coaches? A quick review of their first innings runs during the 2013 Championship season shows an average of 271 runs scored (which is too low if they are to be serious contenders for the Championship) and more than 200 no-balls conceded (an average of 14 runs per match) during the Championship season. Surely Nosworthy needs some help with this. I agree that Buttler is brilliant in the field and his full potential rests in his batting - the jury is out as to whether he will make a regular "Test" player. No-one can argue that he is not pure box office though and losing him will have financial implications for sure.

  • Martin on September 29, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    Buttler should bear no blame at all here. I don't think his head has been turned - it seems he genuinely wanted to stay but was in an impossible situation. As England's one-day keeper with Test ambitions he has to be keeping for his county in all formats. So the decision was Somerset's, and they chose to let a once-in-a-generation local talent go and keep a very good player from elsewhere who's been a decent servant to the club. The wrong decision in my view. Buttler has the talent to be a global star, and while Somerset may have seen less of him on the field, the benefits of having him associated with the club are unquantifiable.

  • John on September 29, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    Although it's not possible to see the future, my guess is that Sam Dyer's right. Buttler will play a season or two for Lancashire, interrupted by call-ups for England's short-format games, and then begin to get close to the test side. After that Lancashire will see nothing of him.

    Somerset basically had a choice between keeping Buttler for maybe a couple of years or keeping Kieswetter for 10 and they chose Kies.

    As for Viktor Southern and Munkeymomo, I'm not sure how much of England's short-format games you saw this year, but Buttler's keeping was exceptional. He actually kept far better than Matt Prior, who had a terrible test season. I haven't seen enough of Bairstow's keeping to judge, but if he's better than Buttler then he's really good. There's also Ben Foakes on the horizon. Whatever England is short of in the next 10 years, it won't be W/Ks.

  • Mark on September 29, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    @Victor: I agree that Buttler is not a good enough keeper to even keep in 2020. He is a quality batsman and an amazing fielder (he is a better fielder than ANY of the current England side I am sure of that). He should be a specialist batsman. Bairstow is not a great keeper and is less naturally talented than Jos with the bat but Eng like him, so he should keep in LO format ands Jos be a batsman, then he could still play for us.

    Also like I say, Jonny Bairstow is nothing special. His keeping is meh, and he is less talented than Jos with the blade. Don't get the hype behind him, he is a good player, nowt more.

  • John on September 28, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    Ok , so I presume I'm meant to be talking nonsense re the issue - I don't think I am.

    Anyway - I feel that losing Jos is more than just losing one player. As I and others have already pointed out , Jos is box office and the sort of player who will draw in the casual fan , no matter how the team is performing. He is the sort of player who will inspire youngsters and draw them to the game and maybe to play for Somerset. So for me it could mean that we lose out on potential talent who want to emulate Jos. Maybe there were some behind the scenes issues there which will come out but the facts are that his discontent at not keeping for Somerset has only surfaced since he was given the gloves at England.

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