England v Pakistan Second Test: Buttler the key to reviving out-of-sorts England

Jos Buttler
Taking care - Jos Buttler steering the ball for runs at Lord's
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Ralph Ellis warned against backing odds-on England at Lord's and says there's only one way it could be justified at Headingley.

"Why would you back any team that hasn’t won a match in its last eight attempts at [1.63] in the Match Odds? Only if a player like Buttler, who wasn't part of the miserable Ashes winter, can step up."

For somebody who has always been the ultimate Aussie, taking huge delight in winning Ashes series, Shane Warne has actually contributed quite a bit to England's cricket team.

He was the man who as a Hampshire team mate encouraged Kevin Pietersen to be true to his self, for good or ill, and brought the best of his explosive talents when he was in his prime.

And now it seems as manager of IPL side Rajasthan Royals he's been giving Jos Buttler the belief that he can transfer his own remarkable Twenty20 skills back to the Test arena.

You hope he is right. For Buttler's patient 67 in the second innings at Lord's was one of the few crumbs of comfort to take from an abysmal start to the summer.

I got it right suggesting backing England at odds-on was a mug's game for the first Test, and Ed Hawkins made exactly the same call. Joe Root's side are carrying the baggage of a bad winter and are too used to losing.

Selection caused debate

It's hard to understand on what basis they are once more odds-on to rectify the situation when they start again at Headingley on Friday, either. Why would you back any team that hasn't won a match in its last eight attempts at [1.63] in the Match Odds? Only if a player like Buttler, who wasn't part of the miserable Ashes winter, can step up.

At least new national selector Ed Smith has put the hapless Mark Stoneman out of his misery, bringing back Keaton Jennings as reward for a promising start to the First Class season.

But it is his faith in Buttler which will be the most telling choice at the start of his reign, because it caused considerable debate on the County scene among his critics who feel the explosive Lancashire batsman is still little more than a one-day wonder. He's made only four first-class centuries in his career.

They certainly had plenty of ammunition from the first innings at Lord's. Buttler was almost cleaned bowled first ball, and then slashed straight to second slip after a busy 14 off 15.

But second time round showed far more promise as he spent three hours at the crease to hold up Pakistan's advance on their ultimate nine-wicket win.

Smith thinks he's a potential captain

It's an attitude he and the rest of England's batsmen need to reproduce. They just cannot go on believing that the cavalier attitude which works so well in white-ball cricket will be effective in the five-day game.

Buttler has the ability to bat higher than his current number seven. He could be the new Pietersen, providing the sort of explosive power to take matches away from the opposition - but only if he learns to build his innings properly first.

That's what KP did in his pomp. Yes he smashed fours and sixes, but he knew when to leave it alone too and that's what will define Buttler as a red-ball cricketer.

It was only last summer that Smith was floating the idea that Buttler, who has been an intelligent stand-in on occasions for Eoin Morgan in limited overs games, might emerge as a potential Test captain. As Joe Root continues to struggle in the role it's an interesting thought.

But first he has to show that what he did in the second innings at Lord's he can do again, and again. Warne clearly thinks so, now he has to convince the rest of us.

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