Test cricket is still Jos Buttler’s holy grail.
Buttler, a sensation in this year’s Indian Premier League, may already be at the top of his sport as far as many global cricket followers are concerned.
But as he contemplates “another debut” for England against Pakistan at Lord’s this week, and his chance to be the real Jos Buttler at last on his third attempt at a Test career, the man himself is in no doubt which format holds the key to greatness.
Asked if Test cricket remains the ‘ultimate’, he said: “Yes, it is – and I think it always will be for players of my generation.
“You get that feeling talking to everyone that they still feel Test cricket is the best.”
Buttler references modern greats Virat Kohli, the India captain about to embark on a stint of county cricket to prepare for this summer’s Test series in England, and Kevin Pietersen.
He said: “Virat signing for Surrey to get used to playing in England, to play well in Tests, shows that – (in) the forefront of players’ minds – Tests are still the pinnacle.
“It was really interesting when Kevin Pietersen retired.
“(Sky’s Ian Ward and David Lloyd) were talking about his career, and all they spoke about was his Test match knocks…his hundred against South Africa, his hundred at The Oval in 2005, Mumbai or Sri Lanka.
“He played some fantastic white-ball knocks. But for those guys, it was Test matches they were talking about, and I think people still feel Test matches are the real true test of cricketers.
“I won’t leave with any regrets if it doesn’t work out, but I feel like the best players can play all formats.”
As he prepares for an “awesome opportunity” he had come to accept “might never happen” in the 18 months between his 18th and prospective 19th Test, he is determined to trust his instincts.
His return at number seven is the work of new national selector Ed Smith – Buttler’s Rajasthan Royals mentor Shane Warne was a vocal advocate too – and it comes with a brief to bring his can-do white-ball approach with him.
Reflecting on a Test absence which was threatening to become terminal, he said: “You always think maybe that race is run and will never happen again.
“Turning up here on England duty to play a Test match is unbelievable.”
One of the world’s most powerful and inventive batsmen, Buttler is determined to be true to himself this time.
He added: “It is about trusting my instincts and not fighting them.
“In the past, I have potentially felt as if I had to play in a certain way or be something I am not.
“I have learned a lot about myself over the past two years.
“If you are going to fail, fail in a genuine way – not someone else’s way.”
Thank you for all the messages, canât wait to meet up with the rest of the squad! A dream come true to be named in the first test squad of the summer especially a Lordâs Test! 🏏@HomeOfCricket @englandcricket pic.twitter.com/Wrbw2nuXda— Dom Bess (@DomBess99) May 16, 2018