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India vs England: For Jos Buttler, first Test ton was ‘a million miles away’

All summer, Buttler’s Test selection had been questioned after he became the first bold pick by England chief selector, Ed Smith, who recalled on the basis of his showing with Rajasthan Royals in IPL.

cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2018 12:39 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Nottingham
jos buttler,india,england
Cricket - England v India - Third Test - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - August 21, 2018 England's Jos Buttler celebrates his century (REUTERS)

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace had said a day earlier that with top-order batsmen struggling, the team would gladly accept runs from the middle-order in a bid to salvage the third Test against India. Jos Buttler was key for that, yet he felt like an outsider.

All summer, Buttler’s Test selection had been questioned after he became the first bold pick by England chief selector, Ed Smith, who recalled on the basis of his showing with Rajasthan Royals in IPL.

However, the 27-year-old was over the moon after a brilliant first Test century (106) and 159-run fifth-wicket stand with Ben Stokes (62) -- seeking redemption for his brawl in Bristol last September -- denied India a four-day Trent Bridge Test win.

“Yes, definitely (proud). It was very important for us to turn up today and show a lot of character and fight and not give it to India easily.

“It was really satisfying. It has been a long time coming, and a few months ago it was a million miles away,” Buttler said. “It’s a huge moment for me. I’m delighted, a little bit lost for words.”

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The emotion is understandable. Buttler’s previous top score of 85 came in a promising debut against India at Southampton in 2014. Dropped after the 2016 tour of India, he is a key member of the limited-overs side that beat India and is a major contender in the 2019 World Cup at home.

Brought back, Buttler hit a crucial 80 in the second Test win over Pakistan at Headingley to square the series. Still, his appointment as vice-captain was questioned.

“Definitely to prove you can do it, I think that’s a huge part of the feeling,” Buttler said. “(It’s) not just for yourself or anyone else, but to show you can do it for your team as well is maybe the biggest thing -- and to feel like you belong (at Test level).”

Buttler and Stokes battled for over 57 overs, until India made the second new ball count. His former Mumbai Indians teammate Jasprit Bumrah trapped him leg before shouldering arms, which led to a batting collapse.

“It’s disappointing I couldn’t make it last a bit longer,” he said. “(Jasprit) is a very talented bowler. In the white-ball formats and IPL, he’s a fantastic performer – and now he’s showing that in Test matches too.

“He’s got quite a unique action, generates good pace with it, and creates a different angle to what you’d usually face. There is a lot of variety in the India attack as a whole, and he’s another big part of that.

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“It was an error of judgment, but trying to work out the balls to play and leave against him is quite tricky with his angle – the ability to still hold it up and take it away from the right-hander.

“He draws you into playing a lot of balls, with his angle and where he delivers it from, and that was just one that came back – and I got it wrong.”

Buttler was promoted to No 6 due to Jonny Bairstow’s finger fracture. He cashed in on good batting conditions.

“I was never sure if I’d ever play Test cricket again,” he said. “All those thoughts go through your head while you’re out there, as well when you start to get close (to 100).

“I never thought this would happen, so I had to try and make sure it did. Definitely there were times when I thought that race was run.

So, are Tests better than white-ball cricket? “It’s a lot more fulfilment, probably... This is definitely the proudest moment in an England shirt.”

Buttler was dropped by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on one against Bumrah. “You can’t under-estimate how much luck plays a part - human error, dropped catch, I wouldn’t be sat here today.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 07:16 IST