Sir Alastair Cook believes England are right to back Jos Buttler to come good in Test cricket, citing continuity and his world-class talent as reasons to persevere with the wicketkeeper-batsman for the tour of Sri Lanka.
The 29-year-old endured a difficult winter in red-ball cricket, with a top score of 43 in five matches across series in New Zealand and South Africa.
Coupled with an underwhelming Ashes, Buttler has come under scrutiny and Ben Foakes will provide him with competition for the gloves during the two-Test tour next month.
Head coach Chris Silverwood stated last week axing the Lancashire player was “not in my mind” and England’s former captain is of the same opinion.
“Jos is such an integral part of English cricket, is a real big part of the leadership group and he is a world-class talent,” Cook told PA news agency, at the Gray-Nicolls HQ for the launch of their Tree Legacy Programme.
“Obviously we have seen a lot more in the one-dayers and shorter formats, but you do need to have that continuity, I believe, because you are building English cricket around someone like him.
“He is coming up to 30, is such an important part of England moving forward and leading, that he is worth backing.
“Currency is runs, that is clear, and he will have to score more runs, but he is going to a place where he has done pretty well before.
“I’d rather give someone like him extra games because of the benefit that will bring, but if it doesn’t, you will have to move on.”
Cook gave Buttler his Test debut in July 2014 against India and while he has only managed one century in 73 innings, he has scored 15 fifties.
When he earned a shock return to red-ball cricket in the summer of 2018, he impressed in home series with Pakistan and India before he hit two half-centuries during the tour of Sri Lanka 16 months ago.
A lean spell has followed, but Cook is under the impression England should continue with Buttler and does not feel returning to Lancashire to play in the County Championship would be beneficial.
“He is a naturally suited player to one-day cricket and Twenty20 but the one thing we know is Jos handles international cricket,” the Essex opener added.
“It is not that he can’t deal with 80 or 90mph bowling or the spin, because he has won games for England in high-pressure situations against quality. It is trying to find his method in five-day cricket.
“I found my method harder to find in one-day cricket than five-day cricket, he is obviously the opposite player and how he learns it apart from doing it on the job is very hard.
“If he is left out for England, going back to play four-day cricket for Lancashire he probably won’t do because there is a lot of white-ball cricket, but also Test cricket is very different to county cricket.
“You almost need a different method anyway so if he played a year of country cricket for Lancashire, I am not sure it would benefit him that much.
“We know he can play to the standard of international cricket and the pace of it, where as country cricket is different.”
Cook was speaking at the launch of Gray-Nicolls’ new initiative, the Tree Legacy Programme, and planted 33 willow trees for each of his Test centuries.
He said: “Every time an international player scores a hundred (with a Gray-Nicolls bat) a tree will be planted and a kit will be sent to a club or school of the player’s choice.
“It is a great initiative and strange to think in 15 to 20 years time, those trees we planted will make cricket bats.”