Buttler coy on Test return as he focuses on ODI World Cup

2 months ago 46

England's white-ball captain Jos Buttler has told Sky Sports News he is unsure whether he will return to the Test side.

Buttler led his side to the T20 World Cup in Australia last month as England beat Pakistan in the final to add the short-form title to the 50-over version they claimed in 2019.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has scored 2,907 runs in 57 Tests since making his debut against India in 2014.

But his most recent Test appearance came in the fourth Ashes Test in January, when he scored just 11 runs over both innings. Fast-forward 11 months, and Ben Stokes has taken the Test side in a different direction without Buttler and Ben Foakes has cemented his place as England's wicketkeeper.

When asked about a potential return to the Test side, Buttler said: "We will wait and see, I don't know for the minute, to be honest.

"I am really enjoying what I'm doing at the moment, and getting the opportunity to captain the white-ball teams has been a great challenge and really enjoyable."

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Buttler was in inspired form for England during the World Cup semi-final against India

Stokes has 'a lot on his plate' | ODI return not off the cards

Buttler and white-ball head coach Matthew Mott will next turn their attention to the ODI World Cup, which takes place in India next year.

England have a three-match series in South Africa in January and two home series' against New Zealand and Ireland in September scheduled before the World Cup starts.

That gives Buttler 10 matches to establish his settled 50-over side, which has Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan-sized holes in it, after the pair retired earlier this year.

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Ben Stokes was given a standing ovation by fans as he signs off from ODI cricket for the final time in his career.

Buttler said: "The attention turns to the 50-over World Cup and trying to think ahead and planning how we tackle that tournament. We've had a couple of retirements from the side, some stalwarts in Stokes and Morgan.

"We've got to work out how we fill that hole and give guys the opportunity to take those positions up and look to build a balanced team ahead of the tournament."

While Morgan has retired from international cricket, Stokes has stepped away from ODIs without closing the door completely on the World Cup.

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Mark Butcher says Ben Stokes' ability to cope with the pressure in the T20 World Cup final was 'astonishing'.

Speaking ahead of Test series in Pakistan, Stokes said: "Who knows how I might feel towards a World Cup at the time?"

He revealed that director of men's cricket Rob Key approached him after the T20 success. "He pulled me to the side and as soon as he said '50-over World Cup' I just walked away," said Stokes.

"Who knows? At the moment, being out here (in Pakistan), my focus is solely on this series."

Buttler is taking a "wait and see" approach with Stokes, who was so instrumental for England during the 2019 World Cup triumph.

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England Test captain Ben Stokes speaks to Nasser Hussain about his decision to retire from ODI cricket, saying the schedule and pressure on England players has become unsustainable for himself

"Ben, at the moment, has retired from ODI cricket and he's got lots on his plate captaining the Test team and obviously some exciting series coming up with the Ashes next year especially.

"We'll just plan ahead and give guys the opportunity and things will work themselves out naturally. I think over the next six to eight months, guys will perform really well and put their hand up and try to stake a claim for those positions."

Buttler 'excited' for Archer return

One name Buttler will potentially be able to call on is Jofra Archer, who made his long-awaited return to cricket in a warm-up match for the England Lions last month.

Key previously urged caution over Archer, warning that he will not be rushed back, while Stokes hopes he will be able to call on the fast bowler for the Ashes.

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England Test captain Ben Stokes says he is excited to see Jofra Archer back

Archer himself hopes to be fit for the World Cup and while Buttler did not say when Archer will return, England's white-ball captain said it will be "fantastic" to have him back when the time comes.

"Really excited for Jofra himself to get back to doing what he loves doing and playing cricket again. He's such a superstar of the game and we all love watching him perform," he said.

"He is such an X-factor player and an exciting player. For English cricket fans and for him himself to get back out there is fantastic for everyone."

England ODI schedule 2023

South Africa series, January 27-February 1

New Zealand series, September 8-15

Ireland series, September 20-26

ICC 50-over World Cup, October-November 2023, India

Test side bringing 'lots of excitement'

The 32-year-old praised the way Stokes' side have gone about Test cricket. They have won seven out of eight matches following the thrilling first Test win against Pakistan, which included a record-breaking first day in Rawalpindi.

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Full highlights from day five of the first Test between Pakistan and England in Rawalpindi

Buttler described the side as "exciting", adding that they are "fantastic to watch".

"I think every time they seem to play at the minute, people question if 'Bazball' will work in certain places and I thought they played brilliantly," he said.

"They put a lot of pressure on Pakistan, without taking loads and loads of risk."

Buttler believes the way England are playing cricket at the moment will attract more people to Test cricket, in a time when people are drawn to the shorter format.

"I'm sure there is a big chance of that, listening to the way the coach talks, they feel that's their duty and obligation to really entertain people and show just how talented they are.

"Cricket has changed a lot, and the introduction of the short form and T20 cricket has brought lots of excitement. And they're showing that in the Test form that you can do that as well. I think certainly as kids watching this sort of thing, a really exciting brand, you want to be part of that."

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