Jos Buttler insists he is committed to a future in Test cricket and is not planning to give up on the format after the disappointment of the Ashes.
After three crushing defeats in a row at the hands of Australia, England’s hopes of regaining the urn are over with two games still to play and this winter’s trip looks set to be a watershed moment for the team.
Those in leadership positions – from head coach Chris Silverwood, to captain Joe Root and their higher-ups at the England and Wales Cricket Board – have already come under scrutiny but there has been plenty of blame to go around inside the dressing room too.
Buttler has averaged just 19.20 with the bat, culminating in a dreadful dismissal in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, and has dropped several catches behind the stumps including a shocker in Adelaide.
That stands in stark contrast to his thrilling displays in the recent Twenty20 World Cup, where he smashed Australia for 71 not out in just 32 balls and followed up with an unbeaten century against Sri Lanka.
England could make the decision for him after 56 often frustrating appearances punctuated by a few reminders of his ball-striking brilliance, with Surrey’s Ben Foakes waiting in the wings, but Buttler has no intention of jumping ship to become a full-time white-ball specialist.
Speaking ahead of the New Year Test in Sydney, which begins on Wednesday, Buttler restated his commitment to all three formats.
“It’s certainly my ambition. I don’t think I’d have put as much into it as I have done if it wasn’t,” he said.
“I have fantastic family support – they’re very supportive of me and my career, and make a lot of sacrifices for that. That’s one thing that gives you a lot of motivation and drive to try to make it all worth it. It’s certainly maintained my drive and ambition to try and play.
“At the moment I feel I’ve got that support and I’m in a place where I want to try to make it work. All I’m focusing on at the moment is turning up in Sydney and practicing well.
“There’s an overriding sense of disappointment and frustration with the situation we’ve found ourselves in. It’s still quite raw. We certainly don’t want to be a team to lose 5-0. There’s a hell of a lot to play for.”
Asked if he also hoped to be picked for the West Indies series in March, England’s first chance to put their Ashes woes behind them, he said: “Yes, I hope so.”
The questions came against a backdrop of Quinton de Kock’s surprise retirement from South Africa’s Test side.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) December 31, 2021
The parallels between the two men are clear – both wicketkeeper-batters, both limited-overs stars, both within two years of each other, with De Kock the younger at 29.
“That’s Quinton’s own personal situation, but as a fan of cricket and a huge fan of his, I’m disappointed that he’s at that stage,” said Buttler.
“I love watching him bat, keep wicket and play Test cricket. The world of cricket will miss him in that format. But I guess commend him for making a decision that’s right for him.”
Buttler was widely criticised for his decision to aim a wild shot at Nathan Lyon in the final over before tea at the MCG, arguably the worst among a handful of self-inflicted errors in England’s first innings.
It is an example of the kind of fearless aggression that makes him such a destructive prospect in the T20 arena, but was hopelessly misjudged in the context of the match.
“I think in hindsight, just before a tea break is obviously a poor time to get out, but I wanted to be attacking and positive in that innings,” he said.
“Mid-on and mid-off were up. I saw that as an opportunity to score, I didn’t execute that. That’s all it is. I think you have to be able to (move on) as an international player, both when you’ve done well and poorly.
“I know members of the team will be questioned on the outside, but not believing in yourself is when you really start to get on a downward spiral.”