England head coach Chris Silverwood hopes Jos Buttler’s return to form at the end of the Twenty20 series against South Africa is the catalyst for him to reignite his Test career in next month’s trip to Sri Lanka.
Buttler temporarily quietened scrutiny about whether he should open the batting in T20s with a barnstorming 57 from 29 balls as England overcame the Proteas by five wickets at Centurion on Sunday for a 2-1 series victory.
The innings came after a challenging winter for the wicketkeeper-batsman, whose highest score in five Tests is 43 while his average since the start of last year’s Ashes series stands at a meagre 22.05.
He has been retained for the two-Test tour of Sri Lanka but Ben Foakes, player of the series when England secured a 3-0 whitewash victory on their last visit to the country in November 2018, will be the alternative gloveman.
Silverwood said that axing Buttler was “not in my mind” and is optimistic the 29-year-old can use his half-century over the weekend as a morale boost ahead of England’s next assignment.
Silverwood said: “Runs are runs, aren’t they? Runs breed confidence within a batsman. Hopefully he’ll take a lot of confidence from it and bring that with him to Sri Lanka.
“To see him come off with a smile on his face in the way he did was superb.
“He’s a very, very destructive player as we know so we want him to face as many balls as he can (as an opener in T20s). Hopefully this score that he’s got will give him the confidence just to keep moving forward.”
England fielded their strongest available line-up in each of the three T20s and, with only the injured Jofra Archer absent, and Silverwood admitted their squad for the T20 World Cup is starting to take shape.
He said: “I don’t think we’re far away from putting that squad together. We’ve played what we believe is our strongest side in these three games.
“The more they’ve played together, the better they’ve got, we’ve seen the improvement throughout the series so I don’t think we’re a million miles away.”
However, Silverwood did not rule out the potential of someone making a late bid for selection, naming explosive Somerset batsman Tom Banton, who was left out having featured in the T20 series against New Zealand last year.
Silverwood added: “There’s Banton, Archer is to come back and then we’ll keep an eye on who’s doing well out there as well.”
England’s next T20 is not until July 3, when they take on Australia in the first of three matches over the space of five days.
Silverwood is unfazed about a four-and-a-half-month gap between fixtures, pointing out a number of his charges will play in the forthcoming Indian Premier League and other domestic T20 competitions before then.
He said: “A lot of the guys are going to play franchise cricket all around the world so they’re still playing Twenty20 cricket which is brilliant for them.”
After the end of a two-month tour that saw England prevail 3-1 in Tests and draw 1-1 in the ODIs before snatching a T20 series win, Silverwood is already training his thoughts on the next challenge.
He added: “We’ll obviously refocus now on the Test series against Sri Lanka and picking up where we left off here.”