England’s new Test coach Brendon McCullum has hinted at a possible return to red-ball duty for Jos Buttler following a blistering run-spree in the Indian Premier League. Wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler was dropped after a lacklustre return during England’s woeful 4-0 Ashes series loss in Australia. Despite being one of the world’s best white-ball run-scorers, the 31-year-old averages a modest 31.94 in Test cricket.
And there was no place for Buttler in England’s squad for next week’s opening Test against McCullum’s native New Zealand at Lord’s, with Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow selected ahead of what will be the new coach’s first game in charge.
Buttler, however, has been in spectacular form for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, powering the team into Sunday’s final of the Twenty20 franchise competition on the back of four centuries in 16 games, with an average of 58.85 and a stunning strike-rate of 151.47.
McCullum, who saw Buttler’s brilliance in the IPL first-hand as coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, is clearly intrigued by the possibility of getting more out of a player who, for all his undoubted talent, has so far managed just two centuries in exactly 100 Test innings.
“Jos is one of those players you look at instantly and think how could he be so dominant in one form of the game and not quite have found his feet, other than a few fleeting performances, in Test cricket?,” said former New Zealand captain McCullum, himself renowned as an attacking batsman.
“There’s certainly guys you look at and think there’s a lot of talent that could improve the side given the right opportunity. There’s no reason why, if you’re good at T20, you can’t bring those skills into Test cricket and you look at some of the guys who have dominated the IPL in the last two months.”
McCullum is also open to reviving the Test careers of spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, even though the former is officially retired from red-ball internationals.
And he is also “ready to have a conversation” about giving Liam Livingstone, who struck the fastest T20 century by an England batsman, off 42 balls against Pakistan last year, a chance at Test level.
“Obviously you’ve got the likes of Livingstone, Mooen, Rashid,” said McCullum.
“All these guys have played international cricket before, been successful in the other forms of the game and you’d think they’d be able to transition across.”
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