|Matt Prior has decided
to take a break
London: Jos Buttler is in line for his Test debut after replacing Matt Prior in England’s 13-man squad for the third game of the five-match series against India, in Southampton.
As expected, Alastair Cook will remain as captain for the third Test with India leading the series 1-0.
The announcement also confirmed England’s intention to stick with captain Cook, who has been badly out of form and has led his team to seven defeats in their last nine Tests.
Cook’s role has been called into question by many observers, who cite not just England’s miserable sequence of results — extended when they went 1-0 down to India with a 95-run defeat at Lord’s on Monday — but also the captain’s loss of all form with the bat at the top of the order.
Cook, England’s most prolific centurion, has not made a Test hundred in 27 innings and has mustered only 129 runs in nine innings this year.
Buttler’s promotion, after 69 limited-overs caps, was the obvious response to Prior’s decision after the second Test to rule himself out of Test cricket for the remainder of the summer — during which he is likely to have surgery on his Achilles.
National selector James Whitaker congratulated 23-year-old Buttler on his inclusion, and called for an improvement from England to battle back in the five-match series at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday. “The result of the second Test at Lord’s was very disappointing,” he said.
“One or two of our players had encouraging performances. However, it is vital the squad learns quickly and arrives in Southampton this week refreshed and ready to perform well in what will no doubt be another tough Test match.”
Frontline seamers Stuart Broad and James Anderson both came in for criticism after they were unable to bowl India out cheaply in their first innings, after Cook won the toss on a green pitch. But England, broadly, have kept faith with familiar players — leaving out only the unavailable Prior and uncapped specialist spinner Simon Kerrigan from the 14-man squad selected at Lord’s.
Whitaker added: “Congratulations to Jos Buttler, who comes into the squad following some very exciting limited-overs performances for England and a good record with Lancashire this season and fully deserves this opportunity.
“Matt Prior has contributed a huge amount to the England side over the years and should be proud of his record throughout his 79 Tests.
“He has decided to take time out of the game to work on his fitness, and we will continue to follow his progress over the coming months.”
Buttler is a mould-breaker in many ways. Not only in his outrageous and daring strokeplay, but also in the way he was fast-tracked towards the professional game.
When Buttler was 12, his gifts were so unmistakable that Mark Garaway - then Somerset's second-team coach - rang Lord's to ask for special treatment. At the time, county academies were forbidden from taking on players under the age of 14. But Garaway, who would later work with Duncan Fletcher as England’s assistant coach and analyst, told the England team supremo Hugh Morris that he had a unique talent on his hands, and won his case.
Buttler's ability to improvise is reminiscent of Kevin Pietersen, who was perhaps the most impudent player England have ever fielded. And from Garaway's perspective, this sort of audacity is an ingredient that is missing from the current team.
THIRD TEST SQUAD
Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes