England turn to raw Buttler
The noises coming out of the England Test squad in India indicate that reserve wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will be called into the team to replace the struggling Ben Duckett.
Batting coach Mark Ramprakash believes that Buttler is among the top five batsmen in ODI cricket but confessed that his lack of Test and first class cricket could leave him underprepared to come into the team as a batsman alone.
Buttler’s technique will be Tested by India more than it ever could be in white ball cricket and while coach Trevor Bayliss hopes he will replicate his success in the shorter format Ramprakash warned against expecting too much.
ESPN Cricinfo reports Ramprakash said: “To me, Jos Buttler is in the top five batsmen in the world in one-day cricket.
“And that almost creates a problem with the amount of first-class cricket he can play. So, if Jos gets the nod we need to be understanding of that.
“He clearly has so much ability but through lack of opportunity it’s been hard for him to develop and I hope that people realise that and don’t set expectations too high because that’s the situation he’s in and we have to live with that.
“In the white-ball game you’re playing on flat wickets against a ball that doesn’t move. So you can be very instinctive; you can see it early and go for your shots.
“We’ve seen James Vince and Alex Hales in one-day cricket, but when it’s come to the red ball in England it’s moved around and they’ve found it challenging and Jos would be similar to that.”
Ramprakash has been working closely with Buttler to prepare him for the challenges that lie ahead.
The coach added: “We’ve tried to set little scenarios for him every now and then.
“So at Rajkot there was a 10-over challenge in the nets with Jake Ball and Gareth Batty.
“Ball would bowl an over, then Batty and we would try to set fields, so he could have more of a match feel to practice rather than just netting. Within that 60-ball challenge Jos could try to put himself into the mindset of playing in a Test match.
“He’s thrown himself into his physical training. Everything he’s done has been like an elite athlete. His practice in the nets, his work on his wicket-keeping: he’s been a real leader in the group and I can’t speak highly enough of his attitude.”
Buttler has struggled to adapt to Test cricket and lost his place in the Test team to Jonny Bairstow after the away series against Pakistan in Dubai in 2015.
The Lancashire wicketkeeper batsman played just one first class fixture last season as well and is in danger of being severely undercooked when he comes out to bat against India in the Third Test.
Ramprakash conceded: “It’s not ideal. As much as we can net and do middle situations in practice, he hasn’t been tested in a match. And that’s where I think that if Jos gets the nod, we have to be understanding of that.”
England have yet to settle on a batting order should Buttler come in with Ben Stokes possibly in line to be bumped up the order.
In response to the question of batting order Ramprakash said: “There’s no easy answer to that.
“It’s a really good question. You’ve players who have just made Test hundreds, like Mo and Stokesy, so do you leave them where they are because you want no disruption? Stokes would be a candidate, yes, but his physical workload throughout the Tests has given him a bit of an issue hasn’t it?”
Ramprakash does feel that right handed batsmen have it easier than their wrong-handed counterparts in India though with Buttler replacing a southpaw and being preferred to Gary Ballance.
The batting specialist added: “As the game wears on in this part of the world, you get more rough outside the left-hander’s off stump.
“So left-handers have it tough both ways. The offspinners are at them with the DRS, but as the game goes on you’ve got a lot of rough for the left-arm spinner to chuck the ball in as well and that makes it quite tough.
“Gary Ballance is a fine player and I think we’ll see him again in an England shirt. He’s a batsman who if he gets in he doesn’t give it away, but obviously he’s found life tough and Bangladesh was obviously very tough.
“I think tactically in this part of the world if another right-hander comes in that may be a slight advantage.”
The third Test between England and India gets underway in Mohali on Saturday 26 November with England trailing India 1-0 in the five match series.
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