England v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Lord's May 31, 2014

Buttler not ready for Tests - Cook

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Alastair Cook called Jos Buttler's record hundred "one of the best innings I've seen" as he just failed to carry England to victory at Lord's but then virtually ruled him out of having a chance of making a Test debut back at the same ground in a couple of weeks.

Buttler's 74-ball 121 transformed a floundering England chase in the fourth one-day international and they were still in with a chance of an incredible victory until he was run out in the final over.

With Matt Prior's potential Test recall still under a fitness cloud - he has been named in the Sussex squad for their Championship match against Nottinghamshire, but it will be his first four-day match since the opening week of the season - it was the sort of timing from Buttler that will increase the clamour for him to be elevated to the Test side.

Cook, however, believes Buttler still needs more time to refine his red-ball game and gave a strong indication England will look elsewhere if Prior is not considered.

"He's certainly found his method in one-day cricket," Cook said. "He knows what he's doing. I think he's yet to find that in four-day cricket.

"I think he'll be honest with himself, he needs more time to do that. But a guy who is as talented as that, there's no reason why he can't.

"I think he will become a very good Test player at some stage for England. Talented people find ways to do that, but I don't think he's quite ready yet for that role."

As a one-day player, Buttler continues to take the game by storm, making his maiden hundred having narrowly missed on the milestone when he fell for 99 against West Indies, in Antigua, during March. England needed approaching 10-an-over when he came to the crease and he kept up that required tempo with a mixture of power, placement and quick running.

"It's a hell of an innings," Cook said. "He doesn't deserve to be on the losing side, playing like that. It's one of the best innings I've seen. I don't know where he gets his power from. It is an incredible talent. Having him coming in, you're never out of the game."

Cook defended the performance of the top order after he and Ian Bell had fallen early to Lasith Malinga, leaving Joe Root and Gary Ballance to rebuild cautiously.

"When you lose wickets at the top of the order, you do have to rebuild and give yourself that chance to take the game deep," he said. "You know you can catch up. It's not the ideal way of playing it - because when you score 120 odd off 70 balls, you should win games of cricket."

Angelo Mathews was relieved to come out with a victory to keep the series alive and while he had Lasith Malinga up his sleeve retained the belief that his team would hold on at the death.

"Jos played an unbelievable innings, that's one of the best I've seen. He played the innings of his life," he said. "He nearly took us apart and the game away from us. But it was a great effort by the whole team

"The spinners bowled pretty well but you save the best for the last and Lasith had those overs in hand and it was pretty pleasing the way he bowled."

Cook also acknowledged that Sri Lanka had held their nerve skilfully in the closing overs after England had gone into the final two needing 20 to steal the win.

"You have to give Kulasekara and Malinga credit for those last two overs," he said. "They were brilliant, kept it very simple, and hit the hole nine out of 10 out of the last 12. Under that pressure - Kulasekara especially, after getting pumped three or four overs earlier - to come back like that, you have to give credit."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on June 3, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    You just have to look at other international teams who have backed there talent at a really young age, who have gone on to become legends of the game.

    Unfortunately the perception is such talent gets burnt out in the County circuit, he's in form now he can build on it. Give him a chance!

  • nlpdave on June 3, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    Butler is neither good enough with the gloves or the bat for test match cricket. Too many missed stumpings and batting technical flaws that will easily be found out by the best bowlers. Carting the white ball around is a very different affair and cannot really be mentioned in the same breath as test match cricket.

  • dummy4fb on June 2, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    You do have to question what England do actually want, was Prior the finished article before his test carrier started? I don't recall his weight of runs in the one day game.... This is an opportunity to have our very own Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist, Boucher or a McCullum? (Who incidentally was no great shakes when he started out in test cricket). England must be realistic and know what they want which i don't think they do. Cook's risk averse approach would suggest he feels that he needs Prior's experience but i just hope that in dawdling like this, Buttler does not go off the boil and become despondant, otherwise it will be a crying shame to lose one of our most impressive recent talents. FYI I am not comparing these greats to Buttler just yet, but they all started somewhere.

  • darrenh on June 2, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Scoring ODI runs does not mean a player is capable of keeping wicket in a test match (if this was the case Morgan or even Bopara would be in with a shout). Butler's keeping is improving but still a little short of the standard England require. I think at the start of the season Butler would have been told he was first choice ODI keeper but would need to improve to challenge for a test spot. I also believe those players England are looking at for the w/k position would have been told they are in the frame and to get their game in order by June. One more season of county cricket (with help and advice from Bruce French?) I believe will help the young man enormously. Finally, I think Prior deserves a chance to prove he can still compete at the top level.

  • player27 on June 2, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    Yes, poor from Cook. England don't know how to create stars. The least they can do is provide the opportunities to someone who has potential. Holding him back is only going to kill his confidence now.

  • BRUTALANALYST on June 2, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    I think this home Sri Lanka series would be perfect time to give Butler a shot and was very surprised by Cooks brutal comment.

  • liz1558 on June 2, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    This is poor from Cook, and once again highlights his lack of leadership skills. He has made himself a hostage to the fortunes of Prior's fitness. This is something that Vaughan or Strauss would never have done. It shows that he doesn't trust new players to perform and demonstrates his over-reliance on the old guard when this is clearly a time for change and taking risks. Everyone wants a fully fit and firing Prior, but there is no guarantee of that; Cook needed to say that this sort of innings puts Buttler in the running. Hard to see what Buttler lacks after playing the best innings by any England batsman in ODIs.

    Not a fan of Cook as captain at all. The cricket is tedious, and he reveals all his fears in press conferences. The lack-of-credible-alternatives argument is wearing thin. The spectre of Kim Hughes hangs over Cook's captaincy - nice bloke; out of his depth; all ending in tears.

  • dummy4fb on June 2, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Sri Lankan batsmen, some of them, backaway from the stumps when playing fast bowling. Ugly sight. Not gainful either. Coach may have observed this already!

  • dummy4fb on June 2, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    He has good technique and he's aggressive. I think that's what England lacks now. Somebody to put pressure on opposition team like KP did in previous Ashes. I wonder this comment from Cook has to do something with KP's tweet as he suggested Jos to play test cricket.

  • android_user on June 2, 2014, 2:34 GMT

    what had Cook done for England? Major achievement was to get beaten by Aussies. he was inspirational in dropping KP and now Same will apply to Buttler.

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