Buttler would get Test chance... if he were Sri Lankan
Would Jos Buttler play Test cricket this summer if he was Sri Lankan? According to one adversary the answer goes without saying. "Obviously," said Sachithra Senanayake, speaking at The Oval the day after Buttler's incredible assault narrowly failed to prevent Sri Lanka from levelling the one-day series.
Buttler is not the sort of player that county academies can mass produce. In his unorthodoxy, chutzpah and ebullient self-confidence, his style is more reminiscent of Sri Lankan cricketers.
His scintillating 121 at Lord's was the most remarkable example yet of such explosiveness - but it was emphatically not a one-off. In 18 ODIs since last September, Buttler has scored 616 runs at 51.33 and with a strike-rate of 129.14. He has always had a rare capacity to thrill, but now it is being married to a formidable consistency.
No matter. Even in the aftermath of his maiden international century, Buttler was described by Alastair Cook as "not quite ready" for the Test arena. The doubts are legitimate: Buttler has scored just three first-class hundreds in 51 matches, averaging a mediocre 32.61. Yet Sri Lanka, one suspects, might take a rather less conservative approach to finding out whether Buttler is ready to thrive in the Test arena.
Senanayake is one of Sri Lanka's unorthodox talents - as if to underscore the point he was reported to the ICC over a suspected illegal bowling action on Monday - and he gave a straightforward answer when asked whether Sri Lanka would elevate Buttler on the compelling evidence of his recent work in limited-overs cricket
"If someone's performing in whatever category we would give him a chance to perform in all three formats," he said. "He got an opportunity and he took it. He played lots of reverse sweeps, sweeps and other stuff. It was a really safe match for us but Buttler did damage. He played his normal game. He's so positive. That's why he's scoring runs."
The style in which he did so was very different to that which has taken Mahela Jayawardene within sight of 25,000 international runs. But Jayawardene was equally enthusiastic about Buttler.
"He is a very good player," Jayawardene said. "We knew he was dangerous because he's done it a few times before. At Lord's everything seemed to come off for him and he connected with everything. He's definitely a dangerous customer. It is good to see all these younger guys thinking out of the box and playing the conditions and situation. It is all good for the game."
Whether such innings are transferrable to Test matches is the question that English fans increasingly want answered, whatever the reluctance of the selectors to find out. "How he played at Lord's is not the way you would approach Test cricket, but he is very talented," Jayawardene said.