- ‘Jos needs to make those big scores,’ says coach Silverwood
- Joe Denly likely to make way for Joe Root in second Test
Jos Buttler looks set to keep the gloves for the must-win second Test against West Indies this week but Chris Silverwood, the England head coach, accepts the wicketkeeper himself will be among those questioning why his incredible one-day record is yet to transfer to the longer format.
Buttler is 42 games into his Test career with just one century to show for it and since returning behind the stumps last winter, when Jonny Bairstow was dropped despite similarly low-key Ashes performances with the bat, he has averaged only 18.
During England’s four-wicket defeat in Southampton he made scores of 35 and nine before dropping Jermaine Blackwood on 19 en route to a match-winning 95 on the final day. Though given as leg byes at the time, the stand-in captain, Ben Stokes, would surely have reviewed this gloved chance going by his reaction.
It was the first catch Buttler has grassed during this second stint behind the stumps but with Surrey’s Ben Foakes the reserve keeper in the squad, and regarded as the best gloveman in the country, the incumbent looks in need of a performance when the series resumes in Manchester on Thursday.
Asked why Buttler is so dominant in ODI cricket, where he has made nine centuries, yet seemingly weighed down in Test cricket, Silverwood replied: “I’m sure Jos is asking the same question really. He looked brilliant coming into this game. He just needs to go and make those big scores now, doesn’t he? Which he knows as well.”
On Foakes, who made a century on debut in Sri Lanka in 2018 but was dropped for Bairstow after five Tests, the head coach said: “I’m not gonna go down that road yet of putting Jos under pressure, because I don’t think it’s going to help him. First and foremost, we want to give Jos the best opportunity to succeed. But you’re right, we have got a very, very good gloveman in Ben Foakes.”
Silverwood was less encouraging about the prospect of Joe Denly retaining his spot after making 18 and 29 in the defeat, with Joe Root’s return from paternity leave and a mature 76 from Zak Crawley in the second innings seemingly settling what might otherwise have been a tricky choice between the two Kent batsmen.
There has been much talk about selection in light of Stuart Broad’s omission and the process still seems slightly cloudy. Ed Smith told Broad he only helps pick the match-day squad of 13 – along with fellow selectors James Taylor and Silverwood, plus input from the captain – before the captain and coach choose the XI.
Stokes and Silverwood insisted that is was a conditions pick and said they had no regrets over it. But Broad has crossed swords with Smith in the past – most notably in Barbados last year when believing his role as drinks carrier to be a result of the national selector’s input – and may need convincing this wasn’t a repeat.
Explaining why Smith has remained with the team as they head to Manchester, despite the XI being down to the captain and coach, and the biosecure measures restricting England to just the 22 players in the wider group, Silverwood said: “He’s here to help select that 13 but also to keep an eye on the rest.
“It’s nice for me to have someone to check and challenge me too, to make sure I’m thinking in a clear direction alongside the captain.”
For all the talk of Broad’s omission, England’s shortcomings were chiefly with the bat; the stumble to 87 for five on the second morning and a lower order collapse of five for 30 on day four proved match-defining.
It was also the eighth time in the last 10 series that England have lost the opener, with Silverwood accepting they must become “quicker out of the blocks” and adapt to key moments better. The hope now is that their recent bounce back in South Africa for an eventual 3-1 win can inspire something similar.
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