'Get Jos Buttler's X-factor in England's Test team if Matt Prior isn't fit'

Last Updated: 01/06/14 12:42pm

Jos Buttler must become England's Test wicketkeeper if Matt Prior isn't fit to face Sri Lanka at Lord's in just under a fortnight, says John Etheridge, of The Sun.

Buttler blasted 121 off 74 balls in the fourth one-day international against the tourists on Saturday - almost inspiring England to a famous victory - to serve a timely reminder to the selectors of his crackerjack batting ability.

After the seven-run defeat, skipper Alastair Cook described Buttler's century off 61 balls - the fastest by an England player in a one-day international - as one of the best he's ever seen and Etheridge told Cricket Writers on TV that the Lancashire player should be in line to make his Test debut this month if Sussex's Matt Prior fails to recover from his reoccurring Achilles' injury.

X-factor

"I think Matt Prior is the selectors' first-choice," said Etheridge. "He plays for Sussex today against Nottinghamshire in a four-day match and if he can through that then I think he is probably going to play in the Test match.

"But if he's not, because he's got this problem with his Achilles - and it's a bit of a chronic problem, which has been hanging around for months - personally I think they should pick Buttler.

Buttler's First-Class Record

  • Innings: 76
  • Runs: 2,283
  • Highest: 144
  • Average:32.61

"This is a guy who has clearly got it; he's got this X-factor about him. But after the game yesterday Alastair Cook was talking about the fact that Buttler's four-day batting record isn't very strong.

"Their concerns seem to be more about his batting than his wicket-keeping actually. But cricket is littered with players who haven't done particularly well in county cricket but who have thrived on the big stage - people like Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan - going back to David Gower, Bob Willis.

"They did very little in county cricket but they had that X-factor and ability to flourish on the big international stage. Buttler is clearly someone who can do that.

"From an absolutely lost cause, he made 120 off 70 balls yesterday; it was a fantastic innings. This is a guy who has clearly got it. Get him in the Test team if there is a vacancy."

Game-breaker

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow wore the gloves the last time England stepped out onto the field for a Test match, on the disastrous Ashes tour of 2013-14, and is back in action for his county after a spell on the sidelines with a finger injury.

But Etheridge says the 24-year-old isn't even in the England selectors' shortlist of four of Prior, Nottinghamshire's James Foster, Somerset's Craig Kieswetter and Buttler for this summer's Test programme.

"Bairstow has had injury problems this summer and [Surrey's] Steven Davies has tossed the gloves in the bin and isn't keeping wicket at all," he said.

"Kieswetter is the most viable alternative in terms of the selectors' view to Prior, along with Foster. In terms of the way the selectors see it, Prior is their first choice, then probably Foster, then Kieswetter. Buttler is about fourth. Personally I would have Buttler in if Prior is not fit.

"But it does seem as though they want Foster as a short-term fill-in; he's an experienced player with brilliant glovework and a more than useful batsman down the order.

"It just seems a shame that someone like Buttler who clearly has got huge talent and who thrives on the international stage is so publicly described by the England captain as not being ready for Test cricket."

He added: "You want a guy coming in at number seven who is a game-breaker. Gilchrist changed the mould for ever as someone who can come in and completely transform the match in a session and Buttler can do that.

"He hasn't proven it in a Test match but from what we've seen in one-day cricket he has the ability to score quickly enough to transform any match in a couple of hours."

Watch England take on Sri Lanka in the fifth and final ODI from 1.30pm on Sky Sports 2 this Tuesday, then join us for the first Test on June 12.