England’s new national selector Ed Smith believes it is “the perfect moment” to reintroduce Jos Buttler to Test cricket.
Buttler made a surprise return to Smith’s first 12-man squad to face Pakistan in the first of a two-Test series at Lord’s next week at the expense of James Vince.
Vince’s match-saving, unbeaten double-century for Hampshire on the eve of the selection meeting seemed sure to keep him in the frame – but Smith has instead been persuaded by Buttler’s wonderful run of form in the Indian Premier League.
Smith said: “Jos Buttler is an outstanding talent, who is already a central part of England’s white ball teams. The selection panel feels that this is the perfect moment to reintroduce Jos to Test cricket, where he has already enjoyed some success, including a stint playing as a specialist batsman at number seven.
“Jos is playing with great confidence and flair, and he will bring unique qualities to the Test team.”
Buttler, who played the last of his previous 18 Tests in December 2016 but is an inked-in white-ball player for his country, will be back as a specialist batsman – with Jonny Bairstow retaining the wicketkeeping gloves.
Captain Joe Root is moving up to three in the batting order, with Bairstow at five.
Smith told Sky Sports News: “The selection panel looked at the batting order, namely the top five – how could England improve their top five?
“The decision of the selection panel was to move Jonny Bairstow to five, Joe Root put his hand up and said ‘what is best for the team? That’s batting three, I’ll do that job’.
“It came to the number seven slot and we thought ‘how are we going to use that extra player at number seven?’ And we thought it was the perfect time to reintroduce Jos Buttler to Test cricket.
“He’s one of the outstanding talents in world cricket at the moment.”
Opener Mark Stoneman hangs on to his position and there is also a potential debut for Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess.
Twenty-year-old Bess, whose opportunity comes after his Somerset team-mate Jack Leach broke his thumb in the nets on Monday, has made just 16 first-class appearances to date.
Smith said of his inclusion: “Dom Bess has made an excellent start to his first-class career. He has impressed everyone with his performances for Somerset and when he has been given opportunities with England representative teams.
“With Jack Leach missing out due to injury, the selection panel wanted to invest opportunity in a young spin bowler. Dom’s strong form, character and all-round abilities presented a compelling case for selection.”