One of Peter Moores’s last major moves as Lancashire head coach was to sign Jos Buttler from Somerset.
Among his most pressing priorities in the same role with England, starting in the one-day series against Sri Lanka, will be getting the best out of the belligerent wicketkeeper-batsman.
In an England line-up not overburdened with big hitters, the onus has often fallen on Buttler and Eoin Morgan late in the innings – a situation which is only likely to intensify with Kevin Pietersen’s controversial exit.
There will also, as ever, be scrutiny on the 23-year-old’s far from polished glovework – and with the returning Moores and his assistant Paul Farbrace both former keepers themselves, it is understandable to expect improvements in that area.
A one-day batting average over 30 and strike-rate of almost 125 show Buttler’s worth but do not reflect the wild variations in his output – his ODI scores this year, in series against Australia and the West Indies read 34 not out, 49, four, 71, five, 12, a first-ball duck and 99.
True, inconsistency is to be expected given his role as destroyer-in-chief and the pressure situations into which he so often emerges.
Perhaps the solution lies in eliciting stronger starts from the top order, building momentum and enabling the muscular Tauntonian to play with freedom rather than constantly having to break England’s shackles himself.
Possibly the responsibility lies with the player to establish himself more securely at the crease – for inspiration, look no further than West Indies opener and Twenty20 gun-for-hire Chris Gayle, who routinely sleepwalks through 10 or 20 deliveries before cutting loose and attacking the bowling.
Of course, the opening position affords that luxury far more than Buttler’s station at six or seven.
Whatever the reasons for Buttler’s boom-or-bust production, Moores will be desperate to harness his prodigious ability in front of the stumps while also improving his reliability behind them.
Buttler’s September move north to Old Trafford was made with an eye on regular use of the gloves, having failed to overhaul sometime international Craig Kieswetter – himself more noted as a batsman – at Somerset.
In Moores and Farbrace, he will have all the expertise he could desire to draw on.
Both were glovemen through and through – Moores recording almost 550 first-class dismissals against a batting average of only 24 in a career spent mostly with Sussex, while Farbrace’s below-par batting limited him to one season as Middlesex’s first choice, which brought him 54 dismissals.
The position is one of many to prove problematic in England’s patchy limited-overs line-up in recent years, with Kieswetter, Test incumbent Matt Prior and Phil Mustard failing to make it their own and Jonny Bairstow lagging behind Buttler.
If the latter can deliver for Moores, he will be one important step along in the rebuilding job which faces him.