LOOKING at the England Test squad for the series with Pakistan, I am pretty happy. Yes, there will be question marks on Jos Buttler, but – thinking a little bit out of the box – I always believe that runs are runs.
I do not go into this theory that if you play one form of the game you cannot play another.
Buttler has been getting fifties galore in the IPL. The mistake I think he has made in his Test career previously is that he has tried too hard to play like a ‘Test’ batsman and a top four or five batsman.
If he bats at seven England will want him to do something different because, let’s face it, how many times have we been five down for 150 or 150 all out? So the reason they have brought him in is to play some shots.
He is the sort of player who should be told to take the game away from the opposition.
Even if we are five down he has just got to play the same and say, ‘What is the worst that can happen?’ You need a free spirit in there.
He is the sort of player who should be told to take the game away from the opposition. You need a free spirit in there.Darren Gough on Jos Buttler
Butler’s average is around 30 in all forms, which is a little disappointing. But others, such as Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, were around that mark when they got called up for England and they didn’t do too bad, did they?
As an interesting exercise I actually wrote two teams out who I would have gone for ahead of this series.
One was the team that I thought the selectors would go for and I had the likes of Dom Bess in it and the other was a ‘totally throw the rulebook out of the window’ squad, which focused on effectively building a new England Test side and the next Ashes to give players some games.
I left out the likes of Anderson, Broad and Cook and put in Gubbins, Jennings, Root, Malan, Butler, Stokes, Bairstow, Best, Porter, Jake Ball and Mark Wood.
A number of players for the future who have started the season well also deserve to be mentioned such as Ben Coad and Harry Brook at Yorkshire, who have been excellent.
I also think Surrey’s Ollie Pope is a serious talent at just 20 years old. Another talented 20-year-old is Joe Clarke at Worcester, who is another exciting batsman.
I also like Henry Brookes at Warwickshire who I saw play for the Under-19s last year and he is very talented – a 6ft 7ins tall open-chested type bowler who can bat as well.
There’s also Amar Virdi at Surrey, who is very talented and beats the bat on both sides and Olly Stone at Warwickshire who has got serious pace if he stays fit.
There’s also Sam Curran at Surrey, who got a six-fer against Yorkshire. Another candidate for the future is Liam Livingstone at Lancashire. He has not got off to a great start this season, but he is another with fantastic talent for me and he won’t be too far away in the future.
Back to this week’s actual squad and the one thing I am shocked about with Buttler is that they did not bring him back to play a county match beforehand.
Maybe they were trying to keep it ‘hush-hush’, but I don’t know why.
It looks like Jonny Bairstow will go up to five in a ‘proper batsman’ role.
I am a little bit unsure about that as he has been so successful at seven. But he is one of our best two batsmen now, so he is now at five.
He has played the ‘Gilchrist role’ really well for England over the past two years and his average has been in the late forties. I do not think he has been doing much wrong.
I also like his determination to keep the gloves. His keeping has improved massively and I think he is ahead of Buttler.
You want to keep Bairstow happy, so let him keep wicket. He is a fit lad and can bat at five and keep, no problem.
I am pleased Bess is in. I have been a big fan of Dom for the last season and a half.
I saw him in Australia in the Lehmann Academy a few years ago with both of my sons and I was very impressed with his character, attitude, training and work ethic.
He can bat and bowl and has a bit of everything and when he got the opportunity at Somerset as a spinner he did not let them down. He became their best spinner, a match-winner.
I would have had Dom in my squad for the last six months and said he should have gone away with England in the winter to New Zealand.
For me, Mark Wood showed terrific courage to come back after missing out on some money in the IPL to play for Durham and get six wickets and get the Test call-up. I am a massive fan and he was in my squad, too.
James Vince has been dropped and the funny thing with him is that he was selected when he was not getting any runs and now he has been he has been dropped.
It was similar to Martyn Moxon years ago with Yorkshire.
He played for England when he wasn’t in form and when he was he never got picked. It was strange, really.
I thought Vince was starting to pick the ball well and now they don’t pick him.