Buttler targets Test cricket from Lancashire move
Jos Buttler, England's one-day wicketkeeper-batsman, has his sights set on Test cricket after sacrificing a settled life with Somerset to move to Lancashire.
Buttler hopes the switch from Taunton to Old Trafford will allow him to escape his typecast as an aggressive one-day player and establish himself in all forms of the game to put pressure on England's incumbent Test wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Born and bred in Taunton, Buttler, 23, has already played 19 one-day internationals and 25 Twenty20 internationals with his powerful batting lending itself to the limited-overs formats. But he believes that with the guidance of Peter Moores, Lancashire's coach and himself a former wicketkeeper, he can improve sufficiently to challenge for a place in England's Test side.
He became irritated at his lack of opportunities as wicketkeeper in Championship cricket at Somerset, where Craig Kieswetter - who Buttler replaced for England in one-day cricket - became their established man behind the stumps.
"I was a little bit concerned about being pigeon-holed as a one-day player and I'm keen to get rid of that tag," Buttler said at his unveiling as a Lancashire player at Old Trafford. "I'm more ambitious than that and I want to play Test cricket.
"I want to become a wicketkeeper. When you're keeping wicket for England in one-day cricket and not doing it at Somerset, there's bound to be a bit of frustration. I think that's obvious to anyone that if you want to keep wicket for England, you've got to be keeping day in, day out. I think I'd been doing myself a disservice and taking a huge risk if I wasn't plying my trade in county cricket as a wicketkeeper while trying to perform at international level."
Buttler was taken to Taunton from the age of 9 and since making his first class debut for Somerset, ironically against Lancashire in 2009, he has averaged 31.73 in 48 matches, including nine half centuries and three hundreds. He is aiming to improve those figures in the coming years with Lancashire, where he hopes Moores's coaching expertise can also help him develop his wicketkeeping skills.
"I know your numbers have to stack up and that's down to me to turn myself into a consistent run-maker in first-class cricket," Buttler said. "Now I've made the decision to leave Somerset and come here and further not just my wicketkeeping but further my cricket as a whole. It's an exciting place to be, there are some great people to work with and I'm excited where my cricket can get to both batting and wicketkeeping."
Buttler admitted the last year had become difficult for him at Somerset while his contract situation became such a hot topic. The speculation over his future finally ended when it was confirmed within hours of their last match at Trent Bridge, when they secured their future in Division One, that he would be leaving and the worst kept secret in county cricket was ended when Lancashire revealed they had signed him despite interest from Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire.
"It's been a tough year," he said. "The easiest place was just focusing on playing cricket. It's when I wasn't playing when people were asking questions and at the end of the day, you've got to do what's right for your career, and this is the right move. I'm excited about it, and am excited about where I can get to as a player. This is a great place to be doing it.
"Having met with Peter Moores and Mike Watkinson, the ambition they've got at this brilliant venue is exciting. That's something I want to be a part of. It is a massive club. As I walked in with my agent Neil Fairbrother, I realise this is a huge place. Coming from Somerset, which is quite a small club, you realise this is a big club, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
Buttler's Lancashire debut may have to wait. He is expected to be required by England for their one-day series in the West Indies in March followed by the World T20 in Bangladesh at the start of April. Before then Buttler has a month-long trip with the England Performance Programme to Australia, alongside new Lancashire team-mate Simon Kerrigan and is likely to be selected on England Lions' tour of Sri Lanka in January.