With the ECB giving England the green light to return to competitive action this summer, this could be the last chance for Jos Buttler to save his Test career.
England will return to Test action this summer. The team will welcome Jason Holder and his West Indies side for three tests, due to commence at the Ageas Bowl in July.
Despite the heroics of last summer, when England secured a 2-2 draw against Australia in the Ashes, a winter victory in South Africa will have given Joe Root plenty to ponder. The Proteas were hardly firing on all cylinders during their 3-1 series defeat.
For some players, a return to action will provide a welcome chance to get back in their stride. One of those men at a crossroads in his international career is wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler.
Buttler has been handed a last chance
It seems strange to make such a suggestion about a player who, in the 50-over game, was one of the main players as Eoin Morgan’s team won the World Cup.
Test cricket is a different animal, though, and Buttler isn’t always able to blast his way out of trouble with the red ball.
In his defence, batting at seven, typically, in Root’s team hasn’t always done the 29-year-old any favours.
Typically, he comes into the action too late and is forced to bat with a tailender and scratch around for every run.
The stats don’t lie, however, and Buttler has scored only one ton in 41 tests at an average of 31.74. His 15 scores of 50 or more are worthy of note but he desperately needs a three-figure knock.
The likeable player will hope to contribute during the forthcoming series on home soil.
During the final test of the 2019 trip to the Caribbean, Buttler highlighted his qualities with the bat.
England trailed 2-0 in the three-test series but played well during the Saint Lucia dead rubber.
Buttler found his way, scoring 67 and 56 as England secured a morale-boosting 232-run victory, ending an underwhelming away series on a high.
A century has eluded Buttler since 2018, though. He scored 106 in August of that year during a test against India at Trent Bridge.
Now, arguably more than ever, Buttler needs to rediscover the form that served him so well on that day in Nottingham.
Ben Foakes is waiting in the wings and is tipped by many to eventually take the gloves from Buttler.
The Surrey right-hander scored a classy century against Sri Lanka on debut in 2018.
Despite his stunning maiden knock, chances to further showcase his talent haven’t been forthcoming.
The knock on the door of Root and the selection committee is getting louder, however.
Youngster Ollie Pope scored a brilliant 135 not out in South Africa and he is also capable of keeping wicket.
Two of England’s three games against the West Indies will be played at Old Trafford and, as a Lancashire performer, that ought to favour Buttler.
With competition for places in Root’s plans becoming all the more fierce, it looks like a now or never situation for England’s experienced keeper.
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