Buttler harbours hopes of Test return

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Buttler might be available to play seven Championship games for Lancashire this year. © Getty

England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler will not yet be following his teammates Adil Rashid and Alex Hales in giving up red-ball cricket after confirming that he still harbours ambitions in the Test match game.

Hales and Rashid have both announced in recent days that they will not play any red-ball cricket for their counties this season in a bid to focus exclusively on improving their limited overs skills. Buttler, who has not played a Test since December 2016, was thought to be one of a number of England players who could go the same way but it is not, for now, something he wants to do.

“At the minute, I’m very happy with my situation,” he said. “It’s obviously the right decision for them, and an exciting decision for them. But for me at the moment, I’m quite happy.” He confirmed he still harbours Test ambitions but admitted he would have to score runs in first-class cricket for Lancashire to get back into the side.

“I haven’t played a great deal of red-ball cricket recently,” he added. “Whether that [Test] opportunity comes [depends on] performance. I think at the back-end of this year I’ll be available for quite a lot of Championship cricket – so if I’m going to get back in that’s when I need to score runs.”

Buttler has played 18 Tests in all but averages just 31 without a hundred in the five-day format. Although he was part of the team which won the Ashes in 2015, his limited overs prowess has far exceeded his Test pedigree to date. It would be understandable should he have a sense of unfinished business in the red-ball game but it is not something that he says weighs heavily on him.

“I don’t want to have too many regrets,” Buttler said. “I’m obviously very fortunate to have played Test cricket at all. I was thinking about it the other day – that one thing you’d want to get out of a Test career would be winning an Ashes series in England. Not that I performed very well. But I’m lucky enough to have that, and no one will ever take that away from me. You’re always desperate to do as well as you can, and fulfil your promise and potential as much as you can. But I won’t lose any sleep over it.”

Perhaps Buttler’s final chance to reignite his Test claims will come later this year. He will miss much of the early part of the County Championship season at the IPL and then will be straight into England’s home limited overs programme. There should, however, be time towards the end of the summer for Buttler to play a decent chunk of Championship cricket for Lancashire and perhaps as many as seven games. Runs then would press his claims for the winter tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies.

For the moment, Buttler is keen for England to improve on their showing in the first ODI against New Zealand in Hamilton on Sunday (February 25) which they lost by three wickets. “I think we were a little bit sloppy for our standards – especially on small grounds like that (Hamilton) defending the boundary and shot-stopping in the ring obviously highlights it because the ball runs away,” he said.

“That’s an area we need to improve. We missed a few chances as well. To try and create wicket-taking opportunities when two good players get in in a partnership in one-day cricket, the half-chances we need to try and take them. They obviously know their conditions very well, they’re a very good side, obviously beaten finalists in the last World Cup, so we give them a lot of respect.”

© Cricbuzz

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