India v England, 4th ODI, Mohali January 22, 2013

England ring for Buttler

Problems for Kieswetter and Bairstow bring opportunity for Buttler just eight games ahead of the Champions Trophy

Jos Buttler is likely to win a major opportunity to kick-start his career in the fourth ODI of the series against India. Buttler, the 22-year-old from Somerset, is not first choice wicketkeeper for his county team but, through some eye-catching performances with the bat and a succession of setbacks that have afflicted his rivals with the gloves, he now has an excellent chance to secure a place in the side.

With a maximum of eight ODIs to play, including this match in Mohali, before England begin their Champions Trophy campaign, the timing is far from perfect for England. Buttler is not only learning his trade as a keeper - as recently as a few weeks ago, England were expressing reservations about his glove work and suggesting it was not ready for international cricket - but as a batsman. He has played just one previous ODI, in the UAE, and in it failed to score a run. This opportunity represents a major promotion.

He owes it, in large part, to the misfortune of others. Most pertinently, England appear to be losing faith with Craig Kieswetter. While his statistics since being moved into the middle-order at the start of 2012 are far from awful - Kieswetter has averaged 30.62 at a strike-rate of 78.27 - he has not fully convinced, either. While the failure to register a half-century in that period is forgivable as middle-order batting is often about impetus or rebuilding and leaves little room for personal milestones, Kieswetter has lacked the subtly required for ODI cricket; struggling to rotate the strike or pace the innings. In short, he remains a batsman who tends to either block or slog with precious little in between. The lack of improvement has been frustrating.

Kieswetter may consider himself unfortunate. Asked to make himself into an opening batsman by England, he was subsequently moved back down the order to accommodate a faltering Kevin Pietersen during the series against Pakistan in the UAE, a move which did pay off when Pietersen scored two hundreds, and failed to adapt to his new role.

Aged 25, he has the time and talent to come again though when he looks around county cricket and sees Phil Mustard, Chris Read, James Foster, Tim Ambrose, Steven Davies, Matt Prior, Geraint Jones, Marcus Trescothick, Paul Collingwood and Virkam Solanki - all of whom who have kept wicket for England in addition to Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Kieswetter - he may reflect that his turn, like that of those before him, has come and gone. Continuity of selection has not always seemed to apply to the position of keeper.

The absence of Bairstow, currently in the UK due to a family illness, is also relevant to Buttler's promotion. Bairstow, an original selection for this series who last year replaced Kieswetter during the World Twenty20, is almost certainly better qualified to take the gloves than Buttler and, having shown himself a more than capable batsman, would surely have won this call-up had he been in India. While the hope remains that he will be able to travel to New Zealand, that is yet to be clarified. Besides, if Buttler takes his chance, the position may be taken for some time.

It is odd how history has repeated itself. In similar circumstances, just ahead of the 2011 World Cup, England lost confidence in Steven Davies during the CB series and recalled Prior. It would be no surprise if they did the same thing ahead of the Champions Trophy. Prior may well be playing the best cricket of his life at present but, after three half-centuries in his 68 ODIs, he cannot claim he has not already enjoyed an opportunity to establish himself.

Buttler is a cricketer of rich potential. Blessed with a wide range of strokes, power and an ability to improvise, he has earned a reputation as a devastating finisher of an innings. In the longer-term, he has aspirations to be far more than that and his remarkable List A batting average of 58.42 suggests a substantial talent. With Bairstow absent he had another opportunity in the Twenty20s before Christmas and responded with a match-winning in Mumbai. It was, however, an innings of just seven deliveries. His role in ODI cricket is likely to be a little more akin to a marathon than that sort of sprint.

So this call-up owes more to his potential than his achievement. Certainly it would be asking a great deal of him to keep wicket in an important global event before he has established himself as first choice keeper with his county. In the longer-term it seems inevitable that one of Kieswetter or, both of whom play for Somerset, may have to look beyond the county if they are to fulfil both aspects of their careers.

The wicketkeeping position is not England's only problem in ODIs. But while their batsmen have underperformed, there is little doubt over the identity over the top five for the Champions Trophy. The real uncertainly concerns the identity of their fifth bowler and, ideally, allrounder. Jade Dernbach has all but bowled himself out of contention - Stuart Meaker must be worth a look in this game - while the reputations of Tim Bresnan and Chris Woakes have not been enhanced on this trip to date.

What more the England selectors think they can learn from watching Bresnan is unclear - he is clearly not the player he was before elbow surgery in December 2011 - but Woakes may be worth another chance. While his bowling may lack bite on flat wickets, he has the batting skill to hurt opposition sides.

The disappointment for England is that they went into this series with a fair idea of the identity of nine of their first choice 11 for the Champions Trophy and, as yet, have failed to find other suitable candidates. Buttler, at least, may have a chance to fill one of those positions in Mohali.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • manu on January 23, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    Indias record in england since 2000::tests: p 11 w 2 l 5 d 4,odi: p 15 w 8 l 5 nr/tie 2 n where as englands record in india::tests:9 w 2 l 4 d 3,odis: p26 w5 l 21 n these stats show india always had good time against england except in tests recently so calling india as minnow is truely unfair....

  • Barry on January 23, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    Bopara gets another chance ! Morgan and Patel can play russian roulette, same with Finn and Dernbach: Onions simply MUST be given a proper chance !

  • Dummy4 on January 23, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    @IndiaChampspakchumps your record in Eng is as bad as Englands in India. Unless a heatwave hits England in mid summer, India will be cleaned up in the Champions Trophy. Class travels well, India do not.

    On topic, Butler is a keeping swap because they are keeping a seat warm for Bopara. Probably Englands best ODI seamer in England at the moment. Once he gets some form with the bat, he'll be in like a shot. Expect Patel or Root to get the chop when we play ODI's in England.

  • sri on January 23, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Is it only me or does any one think that cooks dismissal was infact a blessing in disguise for English ? (given that he was batting too slow and he probably could not have accelerated as KP/Root ) Agreed it wasnt good decision but it did more good than harm to Eng. Also i feel lack of DRS can't be used as an excuse to cover up the poor umpiring standard. Umpiring standard also has to be improved. DRS wont be in india for alteast couple of years (assuming sriinvasan wont be selected after 2 years)

  • Raj on January 23, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    India are the best team in the world. India has the classiest batsmen (Kohli, Pujara), the best ODI batsman (Dhoni), the best bowling all-rounder (Ashwin), clever seam bowlers (Zaheer, Praveen Kumar) and other promising youngsters. The difference between Indian batsmen and pakistani batsmen is their superior technique, talent and temperament. pakistani batsmen are of the hit or miss category like afridi.

  • Khawaja on January 23, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    when cook fails england land in a island of uncertainty and with most of their four bowlers literally not providing teh goods the ODI squad becomes an uncertainty...england should have a left arm spinner for teh oDI's and the coach should talk to dernbach about where he should bowl...obviously england need an additional batter if their top order is tobe inconsistent...england should look to their spare fast bowlers and tell them not to bowl short ...if u want to bowl straight than teh fielding positions should be appropriate and also if u want to bowl wide on the offside...england's coach should talk to his batsmen about their failures...especially ian bell...heaving the improving indian bowlers is a no they say u should preselect an indian bowler to hit out...slow bowls, full length and yorkers if u are being hit...change your length and dont give dhoni the same type of ball again and again

  • Rob on January 23, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Kidderwolf on (January 22 2013, 21:17 PM GMT) Agree re: Kieswetter in both batting and keeping and Buttler/ Bairstow (when available) surely this tour should be for trialling different options (great monicker UTW). I am not altogether convinced re: Meaker he seems a bit raw at present and would prefer Woakes as he is a canny batsman too.

  • Samuel on January 23, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    @igorolman - as I said, I just don't think Woakes is a limited overs bowler; one glance at his stats suggests that. Would love to see England give him a chance in and around the Test squad to New Zealand - he's a different proposition with a red ball in his hand.

  • ian on January 22, 2013, 22:28 GMT

    @Rahulbose: I couldn't disagree more with you! England takes every series seriously & it's not a chore to represent your country - quite the contrary, it's an honour. The plan is always to win the next match & produce a side from a squad that wins consistently, shows character & prepares thoroughly for each match of each series. The idea that England has a casual attitude to her international teams is so absurd & demeans the whole concept of internat professional sport, something that England does at the highest level in a vast number of sporting fields & that is something that India does not do because India doesn't play many sports at the highest level to begin with. This point is esp. significant because English cricket is always competing with other professional sports for national interest & coverage; the better the teams do, the more the profile of cricket is raised. Eng cricket cannot afford to throw series or matches away because winning bolsters the cause of our summer game!