Recently England head coach Chris Silverwood indicated that Jos Buttler would be keeping the gloves for Sri Lanka, despite averaging just 16.20 this year on the back of a 2019 where he constantly struggled for red-ball form and ended up averaging just 25.10 with the bat.
Jos is now looking to repay Silverwood's and national selector Ed Smiths' faith:
“I haven’t quite played as well as I would have liked [this winter], but you don’t become a bad player overnight so I’m looking to repay some faith and get back to playing my best cricket.
“I’m very committed to Test cricket. It’s the best form of the game; it’s the hardest form of the game. That’s what makes it – when you have good moments they are the most rewarding.
“I’ve got massive self-belief and a lot of it is about fulfilling potential. But I’m too old now to get picked on potential. I feel I have a lot of potential in my game; I haven’t got to the level I know I can get to. That’s a big driver for me.”
Buttler enjoyed a test renaissance following his surprise recall in 2018. Ed Smith, having seen Jos dominate on the white ball scene, decided to insert some attacking impetus into the England line-up and it paid its rewards immediately.
Jos would finish 2018 with a 44.71 average. However, it's largely been downhill since then. Some have questioned whether his franchise commitments, coupled with the stress of leading the England men's team to their first-ever 50 over world cup win was draining Buttler, but the England keeper isn't willing to use that as an excuse:
“I don’t think [fatigue] is necessarily the biggest thing. That’s an easy excuse to make. I just haven’t played quite well enough at times. I’ve made too many mistakes, really. When you play well you feel like you make the right decision a lot of the time, in a very good head space.
“[Getting over the World Cup] is an easy assumption to make. Definitely a lot went into the World Cup, not just that summer but for four years, and probably the realisation of it coming together and achieving that takes you and confuses you a little bit – that’s been your clear cut-off for a long time. But again I maintain I just haven’t played as well as I’d like and that’s through decision-making probably.”
Buttler has played 73 innings for England in tests now, so there's a big enough sample size to go on. His career average of 31.75 is obviously lower than you'd want it to be, but it's also been his inability to hit big scores. In 73 innings he has just one century to his name, which came against India at Trent Bridge in 2018.
With England heading to the turning pitches of Sri Lanka, many thought that the newly recalled Ben Foakes would take the gloves. It's widely accepted that in the sub-continent you need your best gloveman and although you wouldn't describe Jos as a poor keeper, he's not on the same level as Foakes when it comes to his defensive work.
England look to be giving Jos another choice, whether he deserves it or not is the question. You can't imagine then keeping faith with Jos if he fails to make a score in Sri Lanka, after an English summer, England head off to India this winter, and they'll need every single run then can get if they hope to beat the worlds' number one team.