Cricket / odi

Jos Buttler - Test Cricketer in Disguise
He's Jos Buttler, more than meets the eye! Hopefully, that's sufficient to get that tune stuck in your head as it has been in mine for the last couple of hours while I pondered this post. Annoying as it may be, I think the term transformer, is probably an apt one when considering Jos Buttler's impact on the England Test team over the past 6 months and i've tried to keep the theme going throughout the post. Prior to this May, no one was under any doubt as to the importance of Buttler to England's white-ball teams but his Test career seemed to have stagnated having missed out on a place in the squad for England's 2017/18 winter tours of Australia and New Zealand. Indeed prior to his recall in May 2018, Buttler hadn't made a Test appearance for England since the end of 2016 and with the emergence of Jonny Bairstow as England's number 1 and the England selectors decision to take young Ben Foakes on those winter tours last year instead of Buttler, it seemed unlikely that a Test opportunity would present itself to England's ODI vice-captain. Test Match Cricket: The Age of Extinction Buttler's initial recall to the Test stage in May this year probably came with a certain amount trepidation from some fans of the game of cricket. The Test Match purists would argue that Buttler needed to score runs in county red ball cricket to earn a recall to the Test team. They'd say that success in white-ball cricket and smashing it about a bit in T20 franchises won't equate to runs when a player dons the traditional whites and heads out to bat against "proper" bowling. From that perspective, Buttler's domestic record in the seasons preceding his recall was limited at best 5 first-class matches in 2 years has not historically been the basis for a recall to the highest level of cricket. However, much like Adil Rashid's controversial reinstatement to the Test team that followed Buttler's own recall, it was Buttler's match winning performances for England's limited-overs teams and his stellar year in the IPL earlier in 2018 that lead to him being given another chance. In the same period mentioned above, where he was barely playing red ball cricket for his adopted county Lancashire, he made 1 century and 20 half centuries in white ball cricket at both domestic and international level and was awarded 7 Man of the Match awards. Those kinds of stats show what a uniquely gifted player Buttler is but until the spring of this year he was generally viewed as a one-dimensional cricketer. That he was called back into the Test side along with Rashid lead to many in England to believe that the very foundations of the game were being undermined. Why should counties invest in producing players and then those players work hard on the domestic circuit in the hope of an international call-up, only to be overlooked in favour of a player who plies their trade in a foreign franchise and sells their services to the highest bidder? Was the common argument espoused Ed Smith: Back from The Dark of the Moon Perhaps the biggest factor in getting Buttler (and Rashid) back into the England Test set-up was the appointment of former Test cricketer and journalist, Ed Smith as the new Chairman of Selectors. This was not a simple swap for the incumbent James Whitaker who had held the post for the previous 5 years. Instead, the appointment of Smith represented a reshuffle in the entire organisation and selection process that left Smith with the ultimate authority over choosing players and of course the total accountability for the sides success and failure. Would a committee-style approach, in which the question of Buttler's lack of red-ball cricket would almost certainly have been raised, have reached the same conclusion as Smith's singular determination to get this player back into Test whites? Of course, we can't say for certain but what we do know is how highly Smith rates Buttler. This below quote is taken from The Times newspaper where Smith was working as a journalist prior to his role with the ECB. He was writing about who should take over the role of captain following the resignation of Alistair Cook I strongly agree with Ed Smith on one point in this quote and that is that Jos Buttler would make a fine England captain. He does have a maturity about him, he is educated and eloquent in the way he speaks and I believe he has one of the sharpest cricketing minds in the country at the moment. Where i'd somewhat disagree with Smith is in the implication that Buttler is not a leading player for England because in my mind he absolutely is and always has been! With Joe Root having been handed the Test captaincy it seems as though Buttler will need to wait a while longer for that particular job, however, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Eoin Morgan decided to retire from international cricket after the conclusion of next year's World Cup and you would imagine that Buttler will be one of the favourites to succeed him as ODI and T20 captain. The innings that secured his recallMatch winning 90 against CSK .Takes Avesh apart in match against Delhi .Century against Australia in ODI Smith's punt on Buttler being a success for England at Test level was very much based on his form in the IPL in the 6 weeks prior to the Test series against Pakistan. While all of England's other hopeful batsmen were shivering in the cold of the English spring and playing on pitches that allowed such lavish movement that you'd do well to lay bat on ball, Buttler was scoring 5 consecutive 50s for Rajasthan Royals and winning matches single-handedly. The message from Smith was clear - score match-winning runs in any format and show that you have the mental capacity that it takes to play at the very top and you'll get your chance. Buttler has not disappointed and in being such a success has almost certainly opened the door for others to follow in his footsteps. Some will argue that this '"isn't how it should be" but ultimately in sports results speak louder than sentiment and Buttler has been England's most consistent performer in Test Match cricket this year. Jos Buttler: The Last Knight Buttler has accumulated 760 runs Test runs for England this year at an average of 44.7 but it is more than just that raw statistics that are impressive about what he has achieved in 2018. Delve a bit deeper and you can see the kind of situations that Buttler has found himself in when he walks to the crease and the added value that his runs have had for a fragile-looking England line-up. Not only has he transformed his own career but he has managed to successfully transform several England innings and match situations as well. What's more impressive is that Buttler has been willing and able to adapt his game to the situation at hand. Take for example the innings he played in the 1st Test against Pakistan and the 3rd & 4th Tests against India where he found himself in a situation that called for a backs to the wall type performance which he duly delivered. Buttler himself has stated he trusts his defence more than he did when he first came into the international side and this is evident in the way he is able to absorb pressure in difficult situations. Of course, being Jos Buttler he can also give it a good wack when needs be and that's what you see in those innings against Pakistan in the 2nd Test or India in the 5th Test where he came to the wicket with England in a relative position of strength and helped them accelerate quickly towards a winning total. Buttler has transformed himself from a white ball specialist to one of the first names on the team sheet for the Test side. His mental approach to the game and ability to adapt to match situations leave him in the same company as Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson as the only 2 other players in world cricket who feature in the top 20 of the rankings in all 3 formats of the game. For now, we can consider Buttler to be a Bumble Bee type character within the England dressing room but who knows, it might not be too long before we are calling him Optimus Prime .........