Re­peat dis­play could turn this into But­tler’s last Test

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket -

Jos But­tler is at a stage where if he does not start per­form­ing quickly, Eng­land will have to turn to Ben Foakes. He can­not af­ford another week like he and Eng­land have just had in Southamp­ton. He was in­con­sis­tent with the bat and be­hind the stumps, and Eng­land lost again. Any re­peat and it could be his last Test.

I sus­pect he will be given the se­ries be­cause I think Eng­land will win the sec­ond Test, but Foakes is the bet­ter keeper and you can­not tell me he would not score the same amount of runs as But­tler has been man­ag­ing re­cently.

The rea­son Eng­land have stuck with But­tler is the be­lief and hope he will fire like he does in one-day cricket.

Every­one wants But­tler to do well. He has more sup­port than any other player. I have not met one per­son who does not want him to suc­ceed. We all know he is a great lad, the per­fect team man and hugely tal­ented, but that does not mean he must be picked. He has to de­liver.

Fun­da­men­tally, it re­minds me of my white-ball ca­reer. I never thought I had the abil­ity to play the white-ball game prop­erly. I did not wake up in the morn­ing des­per­ately want­ing to im­prove as a white-ball bats­man. I was a red-ball player. I just won­der whether But­tler is ask­ing him­self if red-ball cricket is for him. We might also be get­ting to the stage where the se­lec­tors will think the same if he does not im­prove.

In the first in­nings in Southamp­ton, he bat­ted with the best bal­ance and com­po­sure that I had seen from him for a long time in Test cricket. His head was over that front knee, solid as a rock. That is what you re­quire. Just be­cause he is com­ing in at No 7, he does not have to change his game. But in the sec­ond in­nings he came in and Eng­land were on the at­tack. He had seen Ben Stokes and Zak Craw­ley hit a few to the bound­aries with the sec­ond new ball. It looked to me as if Jos came out on roller blades.

Even if you are try­ing to put the foot down, 95 per cent of the time in Test cricket you have to get your­self in.

My ad­vice to him is to stick to the ba­sics for the first 20 balls. Play the way he did in

I be­lieve men­tal tough­ness means de­liv­er­ing the ba­sics un­der pres­sure

the first in­nings in terms of mind­set and bal­ance. Hang in to stay in for those first 20 balls.

I heard Brian Lara say re­cently that in English con­di­tions he used to give him­self 20-30 balls to get in, re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion. If one of the greats of the game is giv­ing him­self 20-30 balls, why would any­one think that But­tler can crash it from ball one? It is im­pos­si­ble. It looked to me that in the sec­ond in­nings he came out try­ing to go af­ter the bowlers. The fact is, in Test cricket he has not proved to be good enough to do that from ball one. There are slips in place. There are also greater con­se­quences for mak­ing mis­takes. He will be an­a­lysed more. In one-day cricket, play­ers are en­cour­aged to play shots from ball one. They can bat with free­dom and, gen­er­ally, with­out con­se­quences if they mess it up.

But in Test cricket, play­ers are an­a­lysed far more. Peo­ple ask why a cer­tain shot was played at a cer­tain time – what was go­ing through the bats­man’s mind?

I be­lieve men­tal tough­ness means de­liv­er­ing the ba­sics un­der pres­sure. It is easy to be flam­boy­ant and risky un­der pres­sure. You can say you are try­ing to swing the mo­men­tum your way. Non­sense. The best play­ers pro­duce the ba­sics un­der pres­sure on a reg­u­lar ball-by-ball ba­sis. When they do that, they have suc­cess. Those that come out and are flam­boy­ant are in­con­sis­tent and even­tu­ally lose their place.

Only Jos can get this right. Do I think he can change and be more con­sis­tent? Yes. The dropped catch in the sec­ond in­nings was a mind is­sue. He has the tech­ni­cal abil­ity to take the catch, but his mind was not on it. He can change that. He has made sim­i­lar mis­takes be­hind the stumps in Test cricket, but gen­er­ally his keep­ing has been pretty solid re­cently.

Let’s stop talk­ing about ideal plat­forms for a No 7, and also end any com­par­isons with Adam Gilchrist. It is wrong and un­healthy for peo­ple to com­pare any­one to Gilchrist. No­body in the mod­ern game is close to repli­cat­ing him. There is no ideal time to bat for But­tler; all he has to do is take it ball by ball and not think about the score­board. Whether he comes in at 50 for five or 300 for five, he still has to give him­self that plat­form. It might help this week that he is not vice­cap­tain. He needs to play with­out any ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­ity and con­cen­trate on the ba­sics of bat­ting. That way he can save his place in the team.

Risky: Jos But­tler’s at­tack­ing ap­proach in the sec­ond in­nings cost him his wicket too cheaply

Michael Vaughan For­mer Eng­land Cap­tain

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