This movie has a fa­mil­iar feel­ing but right at the end But­tler did it

The bats­man res­ur­rected Eng­land and pow­ered past 500 Test runs this sea­son, writes Scyld Berry

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Fifth Specsavers Test -

If a film were made about this Eng­land Test team, the work­ing ti­tle would have to be “Carry On Col­laps­ing”. There may be data which shows that the ball has moved side­ways more this sum­mer than at any time in Eng­land since the home series against Nor­mandy in 1066, when can­non-balls swung with the sea-breeze at Hast­ings to an even greater de­gree than James An­der­son’s outswingers. Even so, Joe Root’s men love a col­lapse – and, just as much, a re­cov­ery.

Ever since their first Test of this sea­son against Pak­istan at Lord’s,

Eng­land have found some­one to turn the tide.

Here it was Jos But­tler res­ur­rect­ing Eng­land from 181 for seven, and he has been the main counter-at­tacker this sum­mer, but half-a-dozen others can claim to have won tough sit­u­a­tions, no­tably Sam Cur­ran of the preter­nat­u­ral ma­tu­rity. Thus the char­ac­ter of the in­di­vid­u­als con­cerned, and of the team, de­vel­ops – most promis­ingly, too, given the Ashes this time next year.

But­tler was so well sup­ported by Adil Rashid – al­most a spe­cial­ist bats­man in the sec­ond half of this series – and Stu­art Broad that he did not have to play big shots un­til the last man in.

A cou­ple of sixes in one over from Jasprit Bum­rah took But­tler past 500 Test runs this sea­son: a tri­umph for the Eng­land se­lec­tors, which more

than off­sets the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Jonny Bairstow. They did not break Bairstow’s fin­ger but they broke his se­quence of suc­cess by over-pro­mot­ing him to No 5.

For But­tler, un­like Bairstow, keep­ing wicket for Eng­land in Tests is not a fun­da­men­tal part of his self-es­teem.

Nor does But­tler have to live up to his fa­ther’s me­mory. Back in the field, But­tler has looked happy at cover and gully in his role as vice-cap­tain – whereas Bairstow in the out­field at Southamp­ton was a shep­herd who had lost his sheep. The prob­lem re­mains though that Eng­land are col­laps­ing with a fre­quency which has to be cured be­fore the Ashes, even if Aus­tralia’s pace bowlers can­not swing the ball so much as In­dia’s fine trio.

In the first Test at Edg­bas­ton, Eng­land lost their last seven wick­ets for 71 then their first seven for 87; in the third at Trent Bridge they lost their first nine wick­ets for 128; in the fourth at Southamp­ton they lost

their first six wick­ets for 86; and at the Oval, af­ter Alastair Cook’s de­fi­ance had ended and be­fore But­tler re­stored or­der, Eng­land lost six mid­dle-or­der wick­ets for 48.

A change of per­son­nel and ap­proach has to be part of the an­swer. Bat­ting is prob­lem-solv­ing, and halt­ing a col­lapse par­tic­u­larly so – a trend has to be halted im­me­di­ately.

The con­ven­tional has not been work­ing as Eng­land have been bowled out in a sin­gle ses­sion three times in two years, so it is time for some­body un­con­ven­tional. But­tler him­self can be re­garded as partly un­con­ven­tional as he has been re­called as a spe­cial­ist Test bats­man on the strength of his white-ball hit­ting.

The re­serve bats­man on Eng­land’s last tour was Liam Liv­ing­stone, Lan­cashire’s 25 year-old cap­tain from Cum­bria. Although he made 80 in a warm-up game in New Zealand, he did not make an ap­pear­ance in the two-Test series, ex­cept for a few telling min­utes.

One of those three oc­ca­sions when Eng­land have been dis­missed in a ses­sion oc­curred at Auck­land. From all ac­counts, in­clud­ing Stu­art Broad’s,

no­body in the dress­ing-room lost his rag as Eng­land were bowled out for 58 – and there was lit­tle re­sponse on the field ei­ther, as Eng­land went through the mo­tions and lost by an in­nings, save in one par­tic­u­lar.

In the first over of New Zealand’s only in­nings their left-handed opener Jeet Raval tried a sin­gle to get off the mark. Liv­ing­stone, on as sub, swooped in from cover and threw him­self into the fray. He did not have many stumps to aim at, and missed, but it was a sign of char­ac­ter amid the sub­mis­sive­ness, ev­i­dence of the com­bat­ive­ness re­quired in an in­ter­na­tional crick­eter.

Only two bats­men have scored a cen­tury in both in­nings of an “A” Test: Kevin Pi­etersen and Liv­ing­stone, who did it in Sri Lanka in Fe­bru­ary last year. In his first in­nings he scored 105 off 137 balls.

Af­ter Eng­land Lions had col­lapsed – yes, col­lapsed – to 58 for four in their sec­ond in­nings, Liv­ing­stone hit an un­beaten 140 and Sri Lanka lost seven wick­ets in knock­ing off their target of 90.

Lan­cas­trian grit, or un­con­ven­tional Cum­brian, it is what Eng­land need in Sri Lanka this au­tumn.

Six of the best: Jos But­tler hits an­other cracker

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