Jos Buttler’s 46-ball hundred against Pakistan will have increased his prospects of an IPL deal © Getty Images
After carrying the drinks throughout England’s 2-1 Test series win over South Africa, Buttler will return to centre stage this week as the ODI and T20 section of the campaign gets underway.
However, Bairstow’s success in the Test series – he scored 359 runs at 71.80 in four matches and took 19 catches, albeit with some high-profile blemishes – looks to have earned him a lengthy run in the side, which means that Buttler’s immediate future lies as a white-ball specialist.
His last England performance underlined just how well attuned his game currently is to the shorter formats and, with the World Twenty20 looming in India in just over a month’s time, his abilities could be a key attribute of England’s bid to win back the trophy that they won for the first, and only, time in 2010.
After limping to a top score of 42 in 12 Test innings since the start of the Ashes in July, Buttler slammed an incredible 46-ball hundred in the final ODI against Pakistan in Dubai, a performance that is sure to have piqued the interest of the IPL franchises when his name goes under the hammer at the auction on February 6.
Buttler has been given the full blessing of the ECB to put his name forward for this year’s IPL, which runs from April 8 to May 24, despite the fact that it would potentially rule him out of five early-season Championship fixtures for Lancashire.
“Obviously Jonny has done fantastically well in the Test series, so he is going to be in that side for a while,” said Buttler. “[ECB director] Andrew Strauss is keen to get guys playing in these overseas tournaments, [and] for me it seems the right decision at this time.
“As an English player it is always quite complicated fitting it in. But this was a great window for me to try it out and with the players around you, you’d think you can learn not just about Twenty20 but all cricket.”
Buttler will enter in the second tier of the auction, and is understood to be a significant target for Kolkata Knight Riders, the franchise that was formerly coached by Buttler’s England coach, Trevor Bayliss.
“You’re a piece of meat in an auction, aren’t you?” Buttler said. “There are no guarantees of getting a franchise, but it’s a competition I would love to be part of.”
Buttler is still adamant, however, that he has not given up on the dream of forging a successful Test career, and says that the experience of playing in a winning Ashes team has whetted his appetite for the oldest form of the game.
“There is an increased emphasis on one-day cricket,” he said. “However, I think an English player still feels Test cricket is the pinnacle and I don’t feel ready to throw my towel in on red-ball cricket yet.
“Having experienced an Ashes series, although personally I didn’t do very well, the emotions and feelings of winning Test matches isn’t rivalled by Twenty20 or one-dayers just yet.
“If we won the World Cup, I am sure it would be completely different.”
England’s preparations for the one-day series step up a notch tomorrow when they take on South Africa A in a 50-over warm-up in Kimberley, for whom Marchant de Lange has been called up in place of the injured Wayne Parnell.
However, England have chosen to rest four of the players who took part in last week’s fourth Test in Centurion – Stuart Broad, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, and Ben Stokes, whose man-of-the-series-winning exploits had been an “eye-opener’ for Buttler.
“As a peer of his [Stokes], someone I grew up with, it gives you added motivation and belief you can do it,” said Buttler. “All the talk from Trevor Bayliss is that, if that is the way you want to play, it is the way to play in all forms these days.
“I think I have learnt a lot from watching, it proves there is no one way to bat in Test cricket – and whatever way you do, do it your way. If you are going to fail, do it on your own terms.”
England XI (possible) Alex Hales, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Reece Topley.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo