- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Buttler picked up a small tear in his right calf while guiding England to victory in the first T20 against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, and missed Thursday night’s series-sealing five-wicket win, which was also in Cardiff.
England confirmed on Friday that the vice-captain is certain to miss at least the remaining four matches of Sri Lanka’s tour – a dead-rubber T20 on Saturday and the three ODIs next week. Dawid Malan will remain with the squad for those fixtures now that Buttler has left the bubble.
Pakistan tour for three ODIs and three T20s next month, and England are likely to be cautious with their approach to those games, because of the five-Test series against India in August and September.
Buttler joins two other critical players, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, on the sidelines. Stokes is back playing for Durham after a hand injury and will rejoin England for the T20s against Pakistan next month, the final white-ball series of the summer. Archer will have to wait longer after undergoing elbow surgery a month ago.
Buttler’s Test understudy, Ben Foakes, is also injured, raising his importance in that side. There is a certain irony in Buttler picking up an injury in his first international for almost two months. He is first-choice wicketkeeper across formats for England, but has been rested for the last five Tests as the management look to tackle the challenges posed by bubble fatigue. Foakes stepped in for three matches in India before James Bracey took over in the recent defeat to New Zealand.
While Jonny Bairstow took over as opener and keeper, Sam Billings took Buttler’s place in the side on Thursday night and played a vital hand of 24 in a partnership of 54 from 40 balls with Liam Livingstone, who has taken his opportunity with bat and ball this week. Either side of a rain delay, that pair helped England recover from 36 for four to win. Earlier, a fine bowling performance on a poor pitch had limited Sri Lanka to just 111 from their 20 overs.
Billings should get more opportunities over the next month as he has proved himself to be an adaptable option in both white-ball formats.
“It was nice to just play full stop,” he said of the surprise opportunity. “I think that was my fourth innings of the summer, fifth since January. At times it has been deflating not playing any cricket, and missing out on all fronts.
“Last night was really pleasing for me. In the past I would have tried even harder to make a bit more of a statement, rather than just getting the job done. It was a real shame to get out of course, but to get stuck in and play the role that was needed for the team. It wasn’t pretty, but ultimately it’s about getting the side over the line.
“It’s good to be around the group. We know how hard it is to get into the white-ball group especially. The batting depth in white-ball cricket in this country is phenomenal. It’s a very hard squad to get into. For me it’s a no-brainer when it comes to England. You just have to be patient, bide your time and when the opportunity comes, take it.”
England are likely to continue “tinkering” with the side on Saturday, as Eoin Morgan said they would after the first game. Chris Woakes should return, while Moeen Ali (who has not played in England’s last 10 T20s) will stand a better chance of selection at the Ageas Bowl, which is a bigger ground than Cardiff and better-suited to spin bowling.
Tom Curran and Liam Dawson are the other players in the squad.