Having played a masterstroke and seeing him score over 500 runs across the summer against Pakistan and India, national selector Ed Smith has revealed that he was absolutely committed to get the wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler back into England's Test side at the start of this summer.
Buttler, who was brilliant for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League this year, was feared to have given up on the first-class game. While Buttler had always cleared that he wants to play Test Cricket, he wasn't available for the start of the county championship and then him getting picked for the series against Pakistan was criticised.
This is when Smith, who saw potential and strong basics, backed the explosive limited overs player to carry the prowess forward into the red-ball cricket.
"One of my attitudes to selection is that there has to be a compelling reason not to have one of your top players in the team and I couldn't see any way Buttler was not in our seven best batsmen," Smith was quoted telling Sky Sports' commentator Michael Atherton on Day 4 at Southampton.
He further added, "I also feel he has the potential, due to his character, technique and mastery, to go on and adapt to Test cricket and not just become a good player, but a really fine Test cricketer. It's a pick I was absolutely committed to happening and the way he has played has been a positive. I never doubted Buttler had the ability or that he would repay that investment."
"It was a challenge for me as I knew it was different. It would have been an easy criticism to say he hadn't played any red-ball cricket and if it had gone wrong I would have been the one to have borne that risk, which is fine." and reiterated, "When I took the job I said I was going to have the courage of what I believe - if I believe something to be right, I won't shy away from doing it, even if it's potentially going to play really badly if it goes wrong."
Amidst criticism of his and team management's persistence with Adil Rashid, Ed Smith cleared, "There was a complicated backdrop where Adil had stepped away from playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire, so we wanted to make sure he was committed to playing Test cricket for England and it was something he really wanted to do," he added, "I also wanted to make sure the coach [Trevor Bayliss] and captain [Joe Root] were behind it and I think we were unanimous on it."
"When you select you are bringing on to the field someone who has the capacity to positively influence a game. With the exception of Lord's, he has contributed in every game - his stand of 43 with Jos [in the first innings at The Oval] radically shifted the game."
While left-hand opening batsman Keaton Jennings has struggled to put bat to ball across the five Tests against India, Smith suggested that he might still be travelling to Sri Lanka for the series in winter there.
"We have to look at the opening position after Alastair's retirement so we will have a full and open conversation about all the options, But in the analysis of this summer I think it has been misunderstood the extent to which the ball has moved extravagantly." said Smith on Jennings, who now averages just 22 in Test Cricket, "I have never seen the ball swing and seam as much as it has done this summer and some of the pitches have turned as well. That has to be taken into account."
"Some of the people who have dropped out of the side have had a full year of international cricket before that decision was made, some of which pre-date me. I would say Keaton has had a very tough reintroduction to Test cricket and that should be taken into account as we move forward," he concluded.
(Inputs from Sky Sports)