Jos Buttler targets elusive maiden Test century against India
Jos Buttler’s “ultimate” aim is to make a Test century.
Jos Buttler has set his heart on an elusive goal against India this summer – his maiden Test century.
It is exactly four years ago that Buttler hit what is still his highest Test score, against these same opponents on their last tour, at his very first attempt.
In 32 subsequent innings, spread over 20 matches, he has not bettered the 85 he made on debut in the 266-run victory at Southampton.
Back then, he was keeping wicket too in Tests as well as the limited-overs formats but has returned this summer – at the behest of new national selector Ed Smith and on the back of his brilliant Indian Premiere League form – as a specialist batsman, with Jonny Bairstow instead behind the stumps.
It has been a happy return so far, Buttler marking his first Tests since Chennai in December 2016 with back-to-back half-centuries in the drawn series against Pakistan.
Still, three figures evade him – and down at number seven, even with his remarkable shot-making ability, it will be no easy task to chalk off century number one.
Nonetheless, Buttler said: “It is the ultimate aim – I would love to achieve that feat.”
If he does so, he is in no doubt that in the five-match Specsavers Test series against India, it will be coming on one of the biggest stages of all – comparable, he believes, to the Ashes.
“Absolutely – it is a huge series,” he added. “India are a fantastic team – in all conditions as well now.
“Australia is a huge series for England, but in this day and age India are not far behind.”
Buttler anticipates too that the high stakes will ensure IPL friendships are tested occasionally, despite India captain Virat Kohli’s observation that opposition players are more in tune with one another these days thanks to time spent together in the lucrative annual franchise tournament.
“I am sure there will be moments in the Test series, especially on the field, when those things look like they have been forgotten,” said Buttler.
“It will be highly competitive.
“What you have to remember is people can get on well, but the reason guys have got to international sport is they want to win and are competitive.”
He has great respect for Kohli, however, and especially the trained ability he shares with other superstar players to almost always play the right shot at the right time.
“They seem to make the right decision a lot of the time – that is a skill.
“The hunger really shines through in those top players.”
England will be looking to their own, such as all-time national record runscorer Alastair Cook, to measure up – and Buttler has great faith in Joe Root’s team to each do their own homework and rise to the challenge set by India’s spinners.
Kuldeep Yadav may well be lurking among them, having been chosen in India’s Test squad after proving so effective against England in the preceding white-ball encounters.
Buttler said: “Alastair Cook has a fantastic record against spin bowling.
“There will be pointers other guys can share, about (Kuldeep’s) angle of attack and pace he bowls. But until you go out in the middle and do it yourself there is only so much that stuff helps.
“You have to face people for yourself and work out your best plan individually to counteract what they do.”
– Jos Buttler was speaking at the launch of ‘The Test Experts’ Specsavers as Official Test Partner for England before the 1000th Test, which begins at Edgbaston on August 1.