Jos Buttler was part of the Bangladesh Test squad but never played a game    Getty Images (File Photo)
Jos Buttler was part of the Bangladesh Test squad but never played a game Getty Images (File Photo)

Former captain Andrew Strauss arrival back in the England camp, this time as the director, has changed the face of English cricket. No more are England known as a country that remains infatuated with red-ball cricket; their meteoric rise in limited-overs cricket has a lot to do with changes in ideology and approach that Strauss brought in. With a clear mind and approach, England are now a drastically improved side in 50-overs cricket compared to the one which left the field humiliated in the last World Cup, and the reason behind their success is the rise of cricketers like Jos Buttler. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot

There are fewer doubts that players like Buttler, who did not feature in the early stages of the English summer this year, are allowed to hone their skills playing white-ball cricket more. Buttler was among the very few active English cricketers in years to have played in the Indian Premier League (IPL), for Mumbai Indians. He was released from the national side with the objective of learning nuances of limited-overs cricket in the IPL, and Buttler would certainly have returned as an improved cricketer at the end of it with a few crucial lessons in his kitty.

But none of that is likely to have a great impact when Buttler will compete with the in-form Jonny Bairstow as England s wicketkeeper-batsman for the five-Test series in India. Bairstow might not be the cleanest behind the wickets, but his form in Test cricket is all but set to keep Buttler out of the playing XI. Bairstow has runs behind him to stake a claim in the playing XI, but in case if the team management decides to see some leadership within the camp, Buttler can be a good option.

From the team management s perspective, the selection of wicketkeeper will be even tougher, if the criterion is the performances of Buttler and Bairstow on Bangladesh tour. Buttler played the ODIs as the wicketkeeper-batsman, and ended being England s second highest run-scorer behind Ben Stokes. The competition intensified further, when Bairstow ended the two-match Test series being the second highest run-scorer as well, once again behind Stokes.

Buttler s batting average of 30 in 15 Tests does not stand a chance against Bairstow s impressive 40 in 33 Tests, which also tells about which cricketer among the two has been the preferred wicketkeeper-batsman. However, only if England decide to provide Bairstow some rest during the grilling series in India, Buttler can get a nod.

Moving away from the Buttler versus Bairstow debate, what must be observed is the promise that the former holds. Clearly, having played the full IPL 2016 for MI, Buttler has greater local knowledge. The wickets, however, in the slam-bang IPL are far more batting friendly, but the bounce remains somewhat identical. Buttler scored 255 runs in all the 14 matches that MI played in IPL 2016, which provided the England cricketer a great deal of experience of playing top-flight cricket in India.

It is very likely that Buttler will sit out of the five-Test series which is going to take place in the first leg of England s tour of India in November-December. There will be a break for about 25 days for Christmas in between the Tests and the ODIs, and Buttler is likely to be a regular feature in the 6 limited-overs matches that are slated for earlier part of the next year in India.

But there is one aspect in which Butter outguns his competitor totally. When Eoin Morgan, the regular England captain in limited-overs cricket backed out of the Bangladesh tour, Buttler was picked as the replacement in leadership and he delivered results. From being wimps, England have transformed into warriors; Buttler and his men did not mind picking up a fight or two against the frenzied Bangladeshis in the ODI series. Buttler was at the helm of a team that ended Bangladesh s terrific run at home in ODI cricket, and his leadership skills certainly make the 26-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman one of the must-have players in the team.

There is yet another reason why Buttler will remain in the English Test side as the back-up for Bairstow. In First-Class cricket, Buttler has not shown his mettle with the bat, as well as he has done in limited-overs cricket. Buttler, who holds the record of the top three fastest ODI centuries for England, has only 4 First-Class tons after 74 matches. Buttler s ordinary record in red-ball cricket does not favour his claim for a spot in the Test side, but as far as limited-overs cricket is concerned, he is no less than a monster.

In recent months, England are perhaps the only cricketing side that have been extremely open-minded and at the same time, audacious while taking decisions. To release Buttler for a full IPL season was one of those brave decisions which may come into play, especially if the batsman is awarded with a few opportunities in conditions that he is more aware of than his peer. Buttler s aggression and ability to get runs quickly score high above any other wicketkeeping-batting option in England, and he must get a chance.

For England, it looks like a win-win situation having two very high quality wicketkeepers who promise success across formats. Their middle-order remains brittle with the likes of Gary Ballance not finding their feet yet, which means that Buttler can also be tried out as a specialist batsman at some point in the series if England do not get the stability and runs from their current middle-order.

Buttler can turn around tables with his explosive batting, which England will certainly need if they decide to counter-attack India with some aggressive batting. If he lasts for about one session, Buttler can do far more damage than the opposition can expect. Buttler, one of the cleanest and hardest strikers of the cricket ball, also enjoys the experience of India conditions in compared to some new England cricketers such as Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari.

Only time will tell if this forward-thinking English set-up decides to go audacious.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)