England captain Joe Root believes Jos Buttler’s recall to the Test side is a “step in the right direction”.
Buttler’s return to the fray headlined new national selector Ed Smith’s first squad for the forthcoming Test series with Pakistan, starting at Lord’s next week.
The batsman, who averages just over 30 in 18 Tests, is set to make his first five-day appearance since December 2016 after impressing in the Indian Premier League for Rajasthan Royals, where he hit scores of 39, 94 not out, 95 not out, 82 and 51 in his last five innings.
And Root believes Buttler’s explosive batting will make a big difference at number seven.
“I think Jos is a fantastic player,” Root said, speaking at the launch of England’s new limited-overs kits in London.
“He has done some great stuff in the recent past in the IPL and in the one-day team and he brings a different dynamic to the team moving forward in that number seven role.
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A massive thank you to everyone involved in the very special @rajasthanroyals set up! What an amazing few weeks in India with some fantastic memories made on and off the pitch. Such a great changing room to be a part of and incredible family feel the franchise have developed. Have loved my time with everyone and I will be watching on Saturday as we make it through to the play offs!! #hallabol
“He can go and express himself at seven and Jonny (Bairstow) will move up to number five.
“He has had a fantastic winter, it’s a bit more responsibility given to him, which excites me, and it is a step in the right direction for this side.”
Root will also move up to number three, in the absence of the dropped James Vince.
He has had 31 innings in that position, including his Test best of 254 two years ago, also against Pakistan.
“I am excited, I have had a bit of experience there a couple of summers ago against Pakistan and flirted with it in the winter in New Zealand,” he added.
“I am excited for that challenge, taking that responsibility, leading from the front and getting out there as soon as possible, try and make those starts really count and kick on from those 50s and 60s I have been getting and get really big hundreds.”
In a disappointing winter, where Root’s side were humiliated to varying degrees in Australia and New Zealand, the form of Bairstow was a big positive and he has been rewarded with a promotion back to five.
The Yorkshireman has been up and down the order in recent times as England searched for a winning line-up, but is hoping to get a long run in this position.
“I am delighted to go to five, it is something that I do for Yorkshire and something I have done all the way through,” Bairstow said.
“I have batted at five for England as well, it is an enjoyable position to bat in and it is an opportunity to go out and express yourself and hopefully it goes alright.
“As long as I am playing I don’t mind where I am batting, I have been asked to do a job at five and as long as I can go out and score lots of runs batting there, and my keeping I don’t think it affects that.”