Jos Buttler has been handed a surprise recall in England’s Test squad for the home series against Pakistan. James Vince, who batted at No. 3 for England in the 2017-18 Ashes and the subsequent series against New Zealand, has been dropped from the squad.
Buttler, who has impressed as an opener in the Indian Premier League 2018 for Rajasthan Royals, will probably bat in the lower-middle order for England but will not take up wicketkeeping duties, which will be performed by the incumbent Jonathan Bairstow.
“Jos Buttler is an outstanding talent, who is already a central part of England’s white ball teams. The selection panel feels that this is the perfect moment to reintroduce Jos to Test cricket, where he has already enjoyed some success, including a stint playing as a specialist batsman at number seven. Jos is playing with great confidence and flair, and he will bring unique qualities to the Test team,” said Ed Smith, who replaced James Whitaker as national selector in April.
Buttler last played a Test in December 2016 against India and was then dropped for poor form. He has played 18 Tests and scored 784 runs at an average of 31.36, including six fifties. What makes the decision surprising is that he last played a first-class game in 2017, a season in which he averaged just 17.16 for Lancashire in the County Championship.
The squad also includes the uncapped Dom Bess, the Somerset spinner, with Jack Leach missing out through a thumb injury. Leach, also a spinner from Somerset, made his debut in England’s most recent Test, against New Zealand, and was expected to be in contention to make the squad.
“Dom Bess has made an excellent start to his first-class career. He has impressed everyone with his performances for Somerset and when he has been given opportunities with England representative teams. With Jack Leach missing out due to injury, the selection panel wanted to invest opportunity in a young spin bowler. Dom’s strong form, character and all-round abilities presented a compelling case for selection,” said Smith.
Mark Wood, the seamer, was retained in the squad. Wood, who had quit his IPL stint with the Chennai Super Kings early to throw his “name in the hat for Test match selection”, hasn’t been particularly impressive in Tests so far but continued to find favour with the selectors.
England Test squad: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.