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Jos Buttler admits becoming England white-ball captain could end Test chances

Jos Buttler has not played Test cricket since the Ashes (Alastair Grant/PA)
Jos Buttler has not played Test cricket since the Ashes (Alastair Grant/PA)

Jos Buttler admits becoming England’s white-ball captain could mean the end of the road for any prospect of a Test return.

Buttler took over the one-day and Twenty20 reins this week following Eoin Morgan’s retirement and is already preparing to lead a busy month of limited-overs cricket, with 12 games against India and South Africa in July.

He has not played a Test match since England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat but has recently seen himself touted as the perfect player to join a resurgent squad fronted by captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.

The 31-year-old has even been tipped by the likes of Michael Vaughan and Kumar Sangakkara for an unlikely comeback as an opener, a role he excels at in T20 cricket but has never previously considered at first-class level.

Buttler himself seems sceptical about the prospect of adding to his 57 caps, instead throwing himself into the sizeable task of filling Morgan’s shoes.

“Certainly being captain of the white-ball team is my number one priority. I’m very focused and really excited for the challenge that lies ahead,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a really big challenge and one that needs my full-time attention. Talking about the Test stuff might be a question that never has to be answered unless someone wants to pick me for the team, which hasn’t been the case.

“It’s quite obvious at the minute I was left out on merit and rightfully so. I had a poor Ashes series and I’m not part of the team at the moment. The team is playing fantastically well, so it doesn’t look like a team that needs people.”

Playing for England across the formats is becoming an increasingly difficult ask given the heavy fixture list, with the appointment of specialist red and white-ball head coaches a further sign of the times.

Buttler was involved in selection for the first time this week and, while he was unable to call on Stokes or the in-form Jonny Bairstow for the T20 series against India, the pair will feature in the 50-over leg alongside Joe Root.

With Adil Rashid absent due to making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Buttler’s Lancashire team-mate Matt Parkinson steps in as first-choice leg-spinner for both campaigns and there is a T20 call-up for his uncapped county colleague Richard Gleeson.

The 34-year-old seamer has been on the fringes of international selection in the past but has impressed in pressure moments during the Vitality Blast, earning an opportunity to put his hand up for an important role at the World Cup in Australia later this autumn.

“The one area we’re looking for options is at the death. Richard is someone who is back bowling fast and bowls some excellent yorkers,” said Buttler.

“He’s bowled brilliantly this year and deserves his chance. I’m excited to see him perform in international cricket. A lot of guys were pretty keen for him to be in so it was quite an easy, unanimous selection.”

Buttler has promised to be a continuity captain in the Morgan mould and the first team selection of the new era unsurprisingly found no place for Alex Hales. The Nottinghamshire batter has not played for his country since testing positive for recreational drugs in 2019, with Morgan citing a loss of trust.

Jos Buttler says Alex Hales
Jos Buttler says Alex Hales (right) is “up for selection, as everyone is in the country” (Richard Sellers./PA)

While there is no formal impediment to the 33-year-old being picked, Buttler offered little beyond generalities when he his name was brought up.

“Alex is up for selection, as everyone is in the country,” he said.

“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.”