England in India 2016-17 November 22, 2016

Buttler set to replace Duckett in Mohali


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How would Buttler fit into England's side?

Jos Buttler looks set to return to England's Test side as a specialist batsman. Buttler, who was dropped as wicketkeeper a year ago, has only played one first-class game since but such is the England management's belief in his ability - and, just as importantly, the modest form of the alternative options - that he looks certain to be recalled for the third Test against India in Mohali.

The man to make way will be Ben Duckett. While the England coach, Trevor Bayliss, remains a believer in Duckett's natural talent, his struggles against spin appear to have convinced the team management that to subject him to further exposure could damage his long-term development. He has scored 18 runs in the three innings he has played in the series against India and seen a technical weakness against quality offspin from R Ashwin exposed in merciless fashion.

There are only two spare batsmen in the squad: Gary Ballance, who was dropped after the Bangladesh portion of the tour, and Buttler.

For all Buttler's ability, he has an oddly modest record in red-ball cricket. He only once reached 30 in his last 12 Test innings (his highest score in that period was 42) and he has a first-class average of 32.07; notably lower than Chris Woakes'.

But the team management have long believed that his problem was temperamental rather than technical. They hope that he will take the confidence he shows in limited-overs cricket into the longest format and will encourage him to play in that same positive manner.

"The one thing with Jos," Bayliss said, "is that if he plays the same way as he does in one-day cricket, I think that's the way ahead for him; red ball or white ball. I think he's starting to get his head around that fact.

"He's in the top echelon of destructive batters when it comes to white-ball cricket, and there's no reason - if he can get his head around playing against a red ball - that he can't do the same and put the pressure back on the opposition."

Buttler's lack of match practice is far from ideal. He played in one red-ball warm-up match in Bangladesh a month ago (he scored 4 in his only innings and was dropped once as well), but it remains an irony that a nation that plays as much and appears to plan ahead as England should find itself in such a position.

This predicament was created by an odd combination of events, though. First Buttler was encouraged to play in the IPL and then, just as he would have embarked upon a spell of County Championship cricket with Lancashire, he sustained a thumb injury in a T20 match against Worcestershire. But Bayliss hopes that his form in the nets can be transferred to a Test.

"He's certainly hitting the ball very well in the nets," Bayliss said. "Yes, we would have liked him to have a hit-out at some stage, but it is what it is these days. We've no time to fit one in. If he does come in I think he'll give it his best shot."

While Duckett looks certain to be dropped, Bayliss remains an admirer of his ability and his work-ethic and maintained that, aged 22, he has time to come again.

"I think he's got a special talent," Bayliss said. "Whether he plays the next match or not, I think he'll play a lot more for England. Every level you get to, you go up. It gets harder and harder, and the step is bigger. Ben's working harder than anyone in the nets to try to fix things up, getting himself into a position that he is confident enough to score runs."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bernard on November 24, 2016, 20:07 GMT

    Avichall, asking a lot of Bairstow if we lose the toss again and field for 2 days. I suggest 5 particularly to mix the LHB/RHB combos.

  • John on November 23, 2016, 21:39 GMT

    @alexk400 - Maybe check out Jack Leach (as mentioned by a number of people on here ) and check last season's CC numbers with those in the squad http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/455524.html - He may not reproduce at international level but as you'll see it's not always that England choose the best performing player

    @A_N_O_N ON NOVEMBER 23, 2016, 4:56 GMT - If Bell had gone back to county cricket and amassed a load of runs then there may be some justification for his recall but he had a really poor season. It's a shame his team mate Trott has retired as he had a decent enough season and is the type of player who (when on form) would add much needed glue to the side

  • rhett17926813 on November 23, 2016, 16:12 GMT

    England is missing a world class spinner. However, I expect them to give India a good fight in the remaining matches, it's going to be an interesting series.

  • Arup on November 23, 2016, 14:53 GMT

    I like Buttler, but he doesn't deserve to be playing in the test team when he has only played one first class game this year. Test cricket is tough enough, but when it's in India, on spinning wickets, 1-0 behind, it's an even tougher job when you've not had much cricket behind you.

    I think England are playing into the hands of India.

  • bibliolicious on November 23, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    "England players denied from playing for their counties as they have contracts with ECB, is it any wonder so few people pay to watch county cricket these days when a county's best players are not on the field. That is mainly the cause of someone like Buttler only playing on red ball game in a year!"

    Did you bother even skimming the article, Cricfan91671555? (or, you know, actually following county cricket) The main reasons Buttler hasn't played red-ball cricket: a) went to the IPL and then b) injury. Not because the ECB was evilly preventing him from playing for his county. There's plenty to be impatient with the ECB about, but let's pick things that are actually true, eh?

  • geoffs8103821 on November 23, 2016, 13:23 GMT

    I'm not impressed with bayliss at all he always seems to react after the event not picking wood then rashid then hammeed then buttler when everyone else is saying so don't think he's the guru he'd have you believe

  • mrrwwe9465653 on November 23, 2016, 11:58 GMT

    The stupidity of English cricket shines through. England players denied from playing for their counties as they have contracts with ECB, is it any wonder so few people pay to watch county cricket these days when a county's best players are not on the field. That is mainly the cause of someone like Buttler only playing on red ball game in a year!

  • Sam on November 23, 2016, 11:05 GMT

    ECB should send one or both Ballance & Duckett in BPL Bangladesh to play them in the spin friendly subcontinental pitches. They can be called up if required by Eng anytime from Ban.

  • malhar1424912 on November 23, 2016, 9:28 GMT

    There is absolutely no need to alter bairstows batting position. He has been doing so well at that number. Along with stokes. England never played badly. Moen Ali too is in good form. He became victim of the low and slow pitch.

  • Bernard Arthur on November 23, 2016, 8:59 GMT

    In my opinion, England currently has 3 very good Test Match batters, namely Root, Cook and Bairstow, plus a potentially excellent one in Hameed and several good all-rounders, notably Stokes, Ali, Woakes and, to a lesser extent, Rashid. With these elements at their disposal, I fail to understand why Bairstow is not placed at No.4 in the order, unless he himself prefers to bat lower.