Jos Buttler avoids England Test talk to focus on white-ball challenge of India

Jos Buttler said there was “no red ball in his bag at the moment” as he prepared to lead England against India for the first time as full-time white-ball captain.

His first official press conference was a huddled affair at the back of the Edgbaston press box on the opening day of the India Test, a neat reflection of how the new Bazball Test side has suddenly elbowed itself into the limelight.

“I thought someone had written the wrong story, to be honest,” he said of the suggestion doing the rounds that he might fit into the Zak Crawley slot to inject further jazz hands into the Test team. “I don’t think there is much merit in that. It was Kumar [Sangakkara], wasn’t it? Maybe he was just promoting Rajasthan Royals openers!”

“I was left out on merit. Rightfully so. I had a poor Ashes series and I’m not part of the team at the moment, and the team is playing fantastically well so it doesn’t look like a team that needs people to get into it. I’m very focused on the white-ball stuff … I think it’s going to be a really big challenge and one that needs my full time.”

Buttler replaces Eoin Morgan, who stood down after transforming the side, the 2019 World Cup his crowning glory. Buttler was there almost every step of the way and is currently in the form of his life with the bat, but admits Morgan is a hard act to follow.

“They’re big shoes to fill, aren’t they?” he said. “It’s been fantastic for the last seven years. It’s obvious the way everybody talks about him what a great captain’s he’s been.

“I see the game in a very, very similar way to Eoin. And I want us to play in exactly the same way. One big thing that we always talked about as a group is not setting boundaries, not having limitations, always being keen to improve, always keen to push the bar higher.”

“It is about learning all the different aspects of captaincy with the stuff off the field, planning ahead, thinking about those other things. Once I get on the field, I feel quite comfortable with that having done it a few times before.”

Buttler’s first white-ball squads, for the three-match T20 and three-match ODI series against India later this month, have a familiar flavour. Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes, fresh from Test duties, rejoin the ODI squad, after its successful foray in the Netherlands. Yorkshire’s Harry Brook, whose golden patch has continued into the Blast, is named in both squads, as is Lancashire legspinner Matt Parkinson who replaces Adil Rashid, who will make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Dawid Malan drops out of the ODI squad, despite a debut hundred in Amsterdam and Stokes misses the T20 series in order to manage his workload.

On a possible tug of love with Brendon McCullum over Moeen Ali and Rashid, Buttler was relaxed. “The way the Test team is playing at the moment, every cricketer in the country is desperate to be part of that team. Whatever happens for those guys down the line, they’re a huge part of the white-ball team, have been really important for us for a long period of time and I just want to see them playing whatever cricket they really want to play.”

With England’s lengthy fast-bowling injury list, Buttler’s Lancashire teammate, the uncapped Richard Gleeson, is called up after impressing in this summer’s Blast.

And for Alex Hales, out in the cold since failing a drugs Test prior to the 2019 World Cup, the door creaked open half a millimetre. “Alex is up for selection as everyone is in the country,” said Buttler. “We’re really blessed with a lot of strength in depth at the moment, we’ve been really impressed with certain guys who’ve come in and deserve their chance but everyone is available for selection.”