Buttler, who spent almost 18 months out of the team between his 18th and 19th caps, was man of the match for his unbeaten 80 as England won by an innings inside three days at Headingley to draw the Test series 1-1.
The 27-year-old, England’s white-ball wicketkeeper with 170 caps to his name in the shorter formats, is a world-renowned talent in 50 and 20-over cricket.
But after averaging little more than 30 in Tests up to December 2016, he acknowledges he was a “wildcard” inclusion by new national selector Ed Smith to bat at number seven.
Asked if he has proved to himself he can do that job, Buttler said: “I think so. Over the last couple of years I’ve had some great experiences all round the world in different competitions, and that’s really helped.”
Buttler’s Test return followed a brilliant streak of form opening the batting for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League – in which he hit five consecutive half-centuries, culminating in two unbeaten 90s.
He said: “Coming into this series with someone putting so much faith in me as a real wildcard pick gave me a hell of a lot of confidence … for someone to say ‘I’m backing you, you’re good enough’.
“I arrived confident, having had a great few weeks in India, so I felt in a really good place and wanted to continue that and wanted to play the situations in front of me.”
Joe Root’s team went into this match under pressure, with calls for senior players to be dropped and coach Trevor Bayliss’ position in doubt, but after a rallying call from their captain, they were on top throughout.
Jos Buttler finished unbeaten on 80 in England’s 363 all out, and then Dom Bess (three for 33) took his first Test wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 134 and the hosts prevailed by an innings and 55 runs to secure a 1-1 series draw.
England therefore ended a winless sequence of eight Tests, stretching back to their success against West Indies at Lord’s last September and including six defeats.
They put themselves on the home straight by lunchtime, extending their first-innings lead by 61 runs for their last three wickets – thanks chiefly to Buttler – and then nipping out three of their opponents in 11 overs.
I will never understand why England haven't had Jos Buttler at the heart of their side in all formats over the last five years. What a player— Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) June 3, 2018
Sam Curran reached 20, as all but one of those above him had already done in England’s efficient collective, but then had to go when technology over-ruled a soft signal not out and ruled a legal low catch at second slip off Mohammad Abbas.
Broad got hold of a hook at Faheem Ashraf (three for 60) but fell to an excellent catch by Abbas, low to the ground again but this time in the deep at long-leg.
James Anderson’s arrival gave further licence to Buttler, who had become the only England batsman to pass 50 – and having been badly dropped on four the previous evening, he had another escape on 66 when Usman Salahuddin could not gather a very tough chance at deep square-leg off Ashraf.
That blow went for four, and Buttler bludgeoned the very next ball for a straight six into the building site which will become the new Football Stand by this time next year.
A brief but thrilling passage of play ended with Buttler unbeaten five short of a career-best when Anderson was last out, edging Hasan Ali to slip in mid-morning.
Anderson made my Sunday. I love sound of timber. Clueless Azhar Ali . pic.twitter.com/fGkq6hZpXq— jasvinder sidhu (@life22yards) June 3, 2018
Anderson had left himself plenty of time before lunch to get to work on his day job.
In his third over, he knocked out Azhar Ali’s middle-stump as the opener aimed to whip a full-length delivery to leg, then he had a second wicket when Bess pulled off a memorable catch at mid-off – diving to hold a Haris Sohail drive with his left hand.
SPECIAL MOMENT FOR BROAD
Stuart Broad (three for 28) got in on the act, and went ahead of birthday boy Wasim Akram up to 415 wickets in the all-time list of leading Test bowlers, when DRS overturned in England’s favour as it detected a glove behind down the leg-side to see off Asad Shafiq.
Bess bagged Imam ul-Haq as his first wicket at this level.
The left-handed opener went lbw pushing forward to the last ball of the off-spinner’s first over – one that went on with the arm to miss the inside edge.
It was a breakthrough which had been relatively slow coming after lunch, but Chris Woakes soon doubled up when he snaked one past Sarfraz Ahmed’s forward-defence for another lbw.
There was soon a wicket too for Curran, a second in Test cricket on his debut and on his 20th birthday for good measure, when Shadab Khan edged to slip.
It was a matter of time before any remaining resistance folded. Bess and Broad duly cashed in with two more wickets each as Pakistan’s last seven fell for 50 in time for a slightly delayed tea.
Injured England all-rounder Ben Stokes will miss next weekend’s one-day international against Scotland and will be replaced in the squad by uncapped batsman Dawid Malan.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced in a statement that Stokes, ruled out of the ongoing second Test against Pakistan with a hamstring tear, will also miss “the first part of the five-match Royal London ODI series against Australia”.
The ECB added that Stokes will be assessed later in the week and that the all-rounder will “continue his rehabilitation programme and will return to his county side Durham on Monday”.
England have added Sam Billings to their squad to face Australia, in the initial absence of Stokes.