Jos Buttler says he had to find the belief to turn things around after thinking he was set to be dropped by England earlier this summer.
Buttler’s place was in question during the first Test against Pakistan after a number of wicketkeeping mistakes.
But he played a match-winning innings at Emirates Old Trafford and followed that with 152 in the third Test.
“I’ve questioned myself in the last few weeks, but found a really good headspace to hang in there,” he said.
It was not until the third Test against West Indies earlier in the summer that Buttler ended a run of seven matches without a half-century.
In the following Test, the first against Pakistan, he dropped two catches and missed a stumping, only to then pull off some fourth-innings heroics with the bat.
With England 117-5, Buttler made 75, combining with Chris Woakes to help the home side to their target of 277.
At the time he admitted his keeping had not been good enough, but his batting was taken to another level during the third Test at Ageas Bowl, when Buttler registered his second Test ton and highest first-class score.
The Lancashire man combined with Zak Crawley, who stroked a magnificent 267, in a partnership of 359, England’s highest fifth-wicket stand of all time.
“A couple of games ago I was probably thinking I was about to get dropped,” added Buttler.
“A positive outlook and a belief I can do good things has really served me well.
“You’re never really that far away from good things or bad things happening. When it gets good you’ve got to stay very level and know you have to keep working hard because things can change fast.”
|1. 364 – Len Hutton (Eng v Aus, 1938)||6. 294 – Alastair Cook (Eng v Ind, 2011)|
|2. 336* – Wally Hammond (Eng v NZ, 1933)||7. 287 – Tip Foster (Eng v Aus, 1903)|
|3. 333 – Graham Gooch (Eng v Ind, 1990)||8. 285* – Peter May (Eng v WI, 1957)|
|4. 325 – Andy Sandham (Eng v WI, 1930)||9. 278 – Denis Compton (Eng v Pak, 1954)|
|5. 310* – John Edrich (Eng v NZ, 1965)||10. 267 – Zak Crawley (Eng v Pak, 2020)|
Buttler, 29, and Crawley helped England to 583-8 declared, their highest Test total in more than four years.
James Anderson then bowled beautifully to reduce Pakistan to 24-3 after two days in Southampton.
“England have played the best two days of Test match cricket that I’ve seen for a long, long time,” said former captain Michael Vaughan. “It’s been high class and attritional.
“The past five or six years, England haven’t had that mentality of grinding opposition into the dirt. This is the first time I have seen it, and that is a great sign.”
Buttler is renowned for his devastating batting in limited-overs cricket, but his innings in Southampton was built on patience.
He played a supporting role to the elegant Crawley, at one stage going almost 38 overs without hitting a boundary.
“Jos Buttler played a pure Test-match innings,” added Vaughan, who led England to their famous Ashes triumph of 2005.
“We’re used to him crashing it around, but he was happy to let Crawley play the bigger strokes.
“That’s a sign of a batsman maturing at this level. I liked the fact he got to a hundred and didn’t give it away.”
Hugely important innings for Buttler – analysis
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
We’ve all been surprised and seriously impressed by Zak Crawley’s innings. Anyone who scores that number of runs has played well, but we’ve seen a proper exhibition of what he is capable of doing.
There are so many things I like about the way he plays. He is incredibly uncomplicated. The bat comes through beautifully straight. Putting it simply, he hits the ball where you expect it to be hit.
He should score a lot of runs. England now have Crawley and Ollie Pope, two players of a similar young age. That is a really good sign for the future.
Jos Buttler’s innings was so out of character, a man determined to get to 150. He dinked a couple of sixes on day one, but on day two he played a controlled Test innings, as if to show us that is what he can do.
He’s been in good touch this summer, and the pressure on his wicketkeeping has focused his mind. It’s like he’s saying “drop me if you dare”.
There is still the thought you could play Buttler as a batsman and Ben Foakes as the wicketkeeper, but, whatever happens with the gloves, this has been a hugely important innings in Buttler’s career.
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