Jos Buttler is the ideal man to bat at number seven for England in Test cricket

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Jos Buttler is enjoying life back in the Test whites.

Jos Buttler was rushed back into the England Test team after smashing five consecutive fifties in the Indian Premier League.

Form in a T20 tournament is not the best criteria for Test selection but the England management were sufficiently impressed by Buttler’s performance in India to draft him as a batsman for the two-Test series against Pakistan.

The 27-year-old Buttler is playing his 20th Test right now. And in all 20 Tests, he has batted at the number seven in the order or further down in eighth. For a batsman so obviously gifted, it might seem too low a batting position.

However, for the Rajasthan Royals man it is perfect as he aims to stabilize his Test career and play in all three formats regularly.

LOW PRESSURE

Representing your country in Test cricket is serious business – particularly for England, given the country pride themselves on the long-form part of the game.

However, for Buttler, he knows that whenever he bats an number seven, there isn’t that much pressure on him as the six batsmen before him have had their shot at run-scoring.

Whether the top order has scored 150 or 450, expectations are automatically low for a man in possession of the number seven slot given they generally bat with the tail.

In the second innings of the Lord’s Test, Buttler scored a fluent 67 in the company of Dom Bess that helped England avoid an innings defeat.

At Headingley, Buttler remained unbeaten on 34 at stumps on Day Two to help the hosts take their lead past 100. His compact innings seems to have already done the job for England at Leeds.

IDEAL TECHNIQUE

Buttler is the perfect modern-day T20 batsman. He can jump over across the stumps and scoop any bowler behind the wicket for a boundary. Obviously, that’s not what you want in Test cricket but that daredevilry becomes an asset when the team is in a tight spot and you want someone to change the tempo of the innings and the match in 45 minutes.

It is something he has done before. In his first three Test innings batting at number seven, Buttler hit 85 from 83 balls, 45 from 73 and 59* from 56 balls.  His technique is good enough for a quickfire 40. And at number seven, that is what most teams expect.

DANGER QUOTIENT

When a batsman like Buttler walks in to bat, bowlers become alert and some change their tactics just on his reputation. The same bowlers are likely to have more assertive tactics against someone like India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who also bats at number seven and eight and has a similar record (1164 runs at an average of 30 compared to Buttler’s 865 at 32).

The difference is the knowledge about what Buttler can do in an hour. He has blasted the best bowling attacks in the world in white ball cricket consistently and sometimes effortlessly. That makes him a dangerous batsman as it is not all about power but more placement and hand-eye co-ordination too. That he can take over as the wicketkeeper as well makes him the perfect batsman to take care of at least that section of England’s batting order.

Now if only they can find an opener partner for Alastair Cook.

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No half-century but England batsmen stretch lead to 128 against Pakistan in Headingley Test

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Spinner Dom Bess top-scored for England with 49.

England clubbed together to stay in control of the second Test and give themselves an obvious opportunity to square the series against Pakistan.

Theirs was a curiously collective effort on a rain-shortened day two at Headingley – where after play did not get under way until mid-afternoon, no one could muster a half-century but all contributed with a degree of significance to a stumps total of 302 for seven.

The first-innings lead is therefore 128, and the salvation of a drawn series – rather than seventh defeat in nine Tests – beckons if Joe Root’s men can maintain their standards.

Dom Bess, Root himself and Alastair Cook the previous evening all reached 40 but not 50 – the former stumbling just a single short of adding a half-century as nightwatchman to the one he made in defeat on debut at Lord’s last week.

Consolidation was all that was required from England after their dominance on day one. In the afternoon session, they achieved exactly that despite losing their captain.

Root’s was the only wicket to fall, in aggravating circumstances as he pushed out for an attempted drive at a length ball from Mohammad Amir and edged behind.

It was an anti-climax for most of a full-house crowd, gathered in hope Root might choose his home ground to at last re-discover the knack of making hundreds. Instead, he went for 45 – and Bess was joined by Dawid Malan.

With the floodlights in use throughout under heavy cloud cover and the threat of rain never far away, the pair calmly went about their work.

Crucially, the ball did not swing as it had for much of Friday – and a fair pitch contained runs if patience was exercised.

It was, and Bess took his rewards with a series of flat-batted front-foot shots square on the off-side.

Malan drove with impressive timing, down the ground and through the off-side, but fell prey to surprise bounce from Amir with the left-armer’s first ball straight after tea – a nasty one which took the shoulder of the bat for an easy catch to slip.

Then Bess had to go too just a single short of a notable achievement, edging an attempted cut at Shadab Khan’s leg-spin to a diving Asad Shafiq at slip for 49 – and so missing out on a second half-century in successive innings at the start of his Test career.

DROPPED CHANCE

England would have lost three wickets for 20 runs had Hasan Ali held a straightforward catch at midwicket when Jos Buttler, on just four, stabbed one there off a thick inside-edge off Shadab.

It was a poor shot, and a major let-off.

Jonny Bairstow helped Buttler add 48 until he became the sixth consecutive batsman to fall between 20 and 50, in his case at the lower end of the scale when he got a thin edge behind off Faheem Ashraf – to the final delivery before the second new ball was available.

Chris Woakes kept Buttler company next, before he too went caught-behind when Mohammad Abbas this time got that new ball to nip away just enough off the pitch.

Buttler held firm to finish unbeaten on 34, and debutant Sam Curran helped him close out the day – hitting two consecutive boundaries in the last over to post the 300 and ensure he too could go to bed happy after his last day as a teenager.

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England v Pakistan LIVE: Hosts reach 302-7 at stumps on Day Two

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England were comfortably placed at 302 for seven at stumps on the second day of the Headingley Test, giving them a lead of 128 on Saturday.

Play got underway after rain washed out the first session of the second day of the second Test between England and Pakistan.

The hosts resumed batting on 106 for two as they look to take a substantial first innings lead after dismissing Pakistan for 174.

Spinner Dom Bess made 49 after Joe Root (45) lead the charge with the bat. In the final session, Jos Buttler (34*) held the innings together.

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