England romped to victory in the third Test against South Africa and Graeme Swann reckons it has firmed up most of the squad for the tour to Sri Lanka...
"Because he’s not a classical player, it can be pretty ugly when he doesn’t score runs - but I wouldn’t be getting rid of Jos because he’s a vital cog in the works."
Bess has booked his ticket to Sri Lanka
I said Dom Bess needed to find a way to be more penetrative on a turning pitch and he delivered. He was brilliant. It was a pitch made for spin bowling - you saw that on the first day with Maharaj bowling - and should have had a spinner licking his lips. Your first five-for in Test cricket is always a massive thing personally; it gives you the belief that you can do it at this level and that you belong at this level. You sleep very easy the night after doing it and with a big smile on your face. I'm chuffed for him. He absolutely has to go to Sri Lanka now.
It showed as well the nonsense of not playing a front-line spinner and having Joe Root and Joe Denly as the main spinners. They are good as back-up spinners and Rooty proved as much in the second innings but you can't rely on a batsman who doesn't bowl for a living to do it two innings in a row and try to win a Test match for you. So England got it right in this game. In fact, the way they played the whole game was perfect.
Pope success will lift the whole team
Ollie Pope's average in first-class cricket is astronomical. It's 61! He can obviously bat. People often think it is easy there but it's not because you often get a reverse-swinging ball and then a new ball. But what a partner to have alongside him in Ben Stokes. Pope looks like a man born to play Test cricket. Your first Test hundred means so much - I never got one but I imagine it feels a lot like that first five-for.
It's a special moment for the whole team when someone gets that milestone too and actually there is a great team spirit at the moment. There has been for a long time - even if they haven't performed quite as they should have done in Test cricket. But the belief is there and winning two Test matches with a young team and a lot of people who have not been involved before really gels together a squad. I can imagine the celebrations were brilliant.
Buttler will come good again
Jos Buttler is vital in the side. He is a senior player and he is very well respected. I don't think he played as badly as everyone is making out. He is one of those batsmen who has lulls and because he's not a classical player, it can be pretty ugly when he doesn't score runs.
But I wouldn't be getting rid of him because he's a vital cog in the works - especially for Root. I've always said that I don't think Root should be captain because he is such a good batsman, but he is and a good tour reflects well on him. But those around him like Buttler are very important and I'm backing Jos to come good.