London: England captain Alastair Cook hailed Jos Buttler’s 121 from 74 balls as one of the best innings he had seen, but warned the wicketkeeper was not yet ready for Test cricket.
Buttler has dropped out of Test contention in recent months due to too many mistakes with the gloves, but his brilliant innings on Saturday is sure to increase the calls for him to be put straight into the Test team.
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said on Twitter after the game: “I said it a few months back that @josbuttler is a superstar & I’m so happy for him! He has to play Test cricket now ...”
However, James Foster is thought to be in line for a recall if Matt Prior’s Achilles injury fails to clear.
Prior will keep wicket for Sussex against Nottinghamshire at Hove but may share the duties with Ben Brown. England will then have to decide if that is enough to prove fitness for the first Test at Lord’s.
And Cook suggested that both his batting and keeping are not yet up to Test class and he needs to work on his game in four-day cricket with Lancashire.
“It’s a hell of an innings,” Cook said. “He doesn’t deserve to be on the losing side, playing like that. It’s one of the best innings I’ve seen. I don’t know where he gets his power from and with his talent you are never out of the game.
“He will be honest with himself and say he needs more time to develop his game. He will become a very good Test player at some stage for England. He will find a way because talented players always do. But if I’m totally honest he is not quite ready for that role.”
Buttler admitted that he still had “so many areas I can improve before I end up with my long-term goals.” He said he was just “having some fun” as he bludgeoned England back into an unlikely winning position.
“That is the best I have ever played,” he said. “But it is disappointing not to get over the line. I didn’t really think we had a chance and me and Ravi [Bopara] were just having some fun. It gave us the chance to play how we wanted but as the partnership built we thought we had it won.
“But unfortunately we lost Ravi and then [Lasith] Malinga bowling at the end is always hard.”
With England needing 12 to win Malinga took two wickets in his final over for just four runs.
“In a pressure situation he is absolutely the man,” said a grateful Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain.
Cook blamed England’s early batting, a period of play when they appeared timid in the face of a 300 run target — a total they have never successfully chased in England, with just four fours in the first 30 overs.
“We did not get the first 20 overs right,” Cook said.