Jos Buttler acknowledges the crowd
Jos Buttler (AFP Photo)

Jos Buttler went 17 months without Test cricket after playing for England in December 2016. Then, he was recalled for the home series against Pakistan in May this year. He hasn’t looked back since then.

He ended as the top-scorer in the two-Test series with 161 runs at an average of 80.50. In the current series against India, he is still England’s top-scorer with 349 runs from eight innings. More importantly, on multiple occasions, he has been their saviour pushing them out of holes time and again.

For someone who was labelled as a limited-overs specialist, Buttler, who turned 28 on Saturday, has thrown those assumptions out of the window with his impressive display in Test cricket in the past three months. And he lays it down that change on his preparation and mental makeup.

“I have found a nice balance and good mentality about the game,” Buttler said after top-scoring for England with 89 to push them to 332 on Day 2. “I’ve got a good perspective and have been practising really well. I think that’s been a good thing and the consistency and preparation and probably the hunger to turn up and try hard again and continue good form.”

“I think that’s been a big thing for me this year in all formats of the game.”

Being able to enjoy his game has played a vital part in him repaying the faith of England selectors. “I’ve just enjoyed my cricket. I spoke about the first time I got recalled at Lord’s [against Pakistan]. “It was an unbelievable opportunity to come back in and play and the fire was really burning for Test cricket.”

Buttler has made a name for himself with his exploits in limited-overs cricket. He holds the record for the fastest century for England in ODIs and is a top-draw in T20 leagues.

He made his Test debut in 2014 and has since played 24 matches, scored 1205 runs and in the ongoing series, recorded a maiden century in the format. In 2018, since his recall, he has looked a man-on-mission to solidify his red-ball credentials.

“People have said to me you should play the way you do in white-ball cricket in red-ball cricket. I’ve never really seen it like that. I’ve never felt comfortable just to go out and play shots,” Buttler said.

One of the interesting subplots of the five-Test series between India and England has been the battle between Virat Kohli and James Anderson. Kohli, riding on his sheer determination and some luck, is yet to concede his wicket to England’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests. Their battle over the course of the series has been engrossing.

“It’s obviously fantastic Test cricket,” Buttler said of the Kohli-Anderson rivalry. “Virat’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the minute and Jimmy’s England’s greatest-ever bowler so as a match-up for players and fans alike it’s awesome to watch.

“I think the two of them are immensely competitive and have had a great duel all through this series,” added Buttler, who explained Anderson’s flare-up as “probably a couple of words and that’s about it.”

India have slipped to 174/6 in the fifth Test on Day 2 and still trail by 158 runs. Buttler is hopeful England, unlike India, will be able to continue their dominance with the ball come Day 3 and able to secure a healthy lead. “The lead at the minute is quite healthy. If we can back up the performance tomorrow morning, we can be in a really strong position in the game,” he said.