'˜Message to self' may come back to harm England's Jos Buttler

Jos Buttler may face censure over the content of the coarse personal message he writes on his bat handle.

BACK WITH A BANG: Englands Jos Buttler on the attack during the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Buttler, England’s man of the match in their series-levelling innings win over Pakistan at Headingley, has penned the words ‘F*** it’ at the top of each bat he uses in the middle.

He explains that it is his way of dealing with the ups and downs of his sport at the highest level.

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But after television cameras focused on his bat following his unbeaten 80 as England moved towards victory in the second Test, beaming the footage around the world on Sunday, it’s understood Buttler may be in trouble with the International Cricket Council.

There is precedent for ICC sanctions against players for contravening the world governing body’s clothing and equipment rules and regulations.

They read as follows: “Players and team officials shall not be permitted to wear, display or otherwise convey messages through arm bands or other items affixed to clothing or equipment unless approved in advance by both the player or team official’s board and the ICC Cricket Operations Department ... the ICC shall have the final say in determining whether any such message is approved.”

Whether further action is taken in this instance will depend on umpires deciding to lay a charge, and then on the response of ICC match referee Jeff Crowe.

Buttler, who has spoken previously about his reasons for needing a ‘message to self’, explained after this weekend’s victory why he believes it helps him.

RULED OUT: England's Chris Woakes (centre) celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan's Hasan Ali on day one at Headingley. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

“I think it’s just something that reminds me of what my best mindset is – when I’m playing cricket, and probably in life as well,” he said.

“It puts cricket in perspective. When you ‘nick off’, does it really matter?

“It’s just a good reminder when I’m in the middle, when I’m questioning myself, and it brings me back to a good place.”

Buttler was a surprise inclusion, in new national selector Ed Smith’s first Test squad, to return at No 7 after spending almost 18 months out of the team – a period in which his global reputation as a brilliant white-ball cricketer has continued to grow.

He has repaid the faith with back-to-back half-centuries, and believes he has benefited from a combination of lessons learned through maturity and a renewed commitment to back his instincts as he did when he first started playing Test cricket.

“If anything, my mentality has been quite similar to my first few Tests – not worrying about external factors, just trying to play the game, trusting myself,” he said.

“The big difference is experience.

“When I was a young player I didn’t really believe in experience, when the older guys told me I would improve or understand things with time.

“I used to think you could either do it or you can’t.

“But now I understand how valuable experience is – and maturity – to help you to deal with not only the on-field stuff but what goes on around it.”

After a promising start to his Test career, including a home Ashes series victory in 2015, Buttler’s runs dried up alarmingly.

“I started to think too much about how to not get out, as opposed to how to score runs,” he added. “I learned some really valuable stuff there, and got in a really bad rut that I just couldn’t get out of.

“The only real way to get out of it was to be dropped.

“Actually, being dropped released a lot of pressure.”

Chris Woakes, meanwhile, has joined Ben Stokes on the injury sidelines for England’s first one-day international of the summer against Scotland at the weekend.

Woakes, who will be replaced by Tom Curran in the squad for Edinburgh, left the field late in England’s win at Headingley with a thigh injury, the ECB yesterday confirming the all-rounder will not be travelling for Sunday’s one-off match.

Woakes’s participation in the five-match Royal London Series against Australia is uncertain as is Stokes’s after he missed the Leeds Test with a hamstring tear.

Curran has eight ODI caps and was part of the team which won world No 1 England’s last series in New Zealand three months ago.

He was not chosen initially to face either Scotland or Australia, however, following Yorkshire pace bowler Liam Plunkett’s return to fitness.

Scotland off-spinner Tom Sole, 21, is also out because of a broken ankle sustained playing club cricket.

Kyle Coetzer’s hosts will have in-form all-rounder Dylan Budge and former captain Preston Mommsen in their line-up.

Coach Grant Bradburn said: “This has been our toughest squad to select to date, in terms of having so many players knocking on the door with strong performances.

“There has been a lot of cricket so far this season, and outdoor training has been intens.

“So the players themselves have had ample opportunities to sort out the current pecking order.”

Scotland squad: K Coetzer (capt), R Berrington, D Budge, M Cross, A Evans, M Jones, M Leask, C MacLeod, P Mommsen, G Munsey, S Sharif, C Sole, M Watt, B Wheal, S Whittingham.