Jos Buttler
Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Butler plays a shot during the IPL T20 match against Chennai Super Kings Batsman at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur , Rajasthan, India on 11th May,2018.(Photo By Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

England announced their squad for the first Test match against Pakistan at Lord’s, starting on the 24th May. There were several controversial decisions, with the first being the news that Joe Root will bat at three for England. If you cast your mind back to this pre-Ashes press-conference, Root was adamant that number three was not the best spot for him:

[number four -] it’s where I feel that I am the most comfortable

There have been many theories banded around about how Root has been coerced into this position and has been forced to adapt to James Vince’s failures.

England Selection of Jos Buttler Sends Out A Negative Message To County Players

However, it was the inclusion of Somerset’s Dominic Bess and Jos Buttler that stole the headlines. Bess, just 20 years of age and with a limited amount of first-class experience, is set to be England’s frontline spinner heading into the summer. His off-spin has seen him take seven five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul in sixteen first-class matches. This sent out a very positive message: the England selectors were on the lookout for young talented players who have put in good performances in the County Championship.
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The same cannot be said about their decision to pick Jos Buttler. The keeper-batsman is certainly one of the most explosive white ball players in the world, but the red ball is a very different game. Prior to his selection, Buttler had played 18 Tests and is averaging a very mediocre 30, without a single hundred. For a specialist middle order batsman, one would expect slightly better numbers.

So why did the England selectors show an immense amount of faith in him for this series? The answer it transpires is rather simple: it is Buttler’s stellar form in the IPL.

The IPL Should Not Be More Important Than The County Championship

Buttler, playing for the Rajasthan Royals, is having a phenomenal IPL. His batting statistics from the tournament pay testament to this:

Matches Innings Not Outs Runs High Score Average Strike Rate Fifties
13 13 3 548 95* 54.8 155.24 5

Indeed, all five of Buttler’s IPL fifties were in consecutive matches as he hit 67, 51, 82, 95* and 94* in the space of less than a fortnight. Buttler has received a lot of attention from the media in India, who have hailed him as one of the most explosive and powerful hitters of the white ball.

So it seems that a string of some electric IPL performances is enough to earn a spot in England’s red ball squad. What about those plugging away tirelessly in the County Championship looking to earn an international call up?

There are many middle order batsmen who are in close contention for a spot in this England side, but Ben Foakes stands out in particular. The Surrey keeper was named in England’s Ashes squad but now finds himself shunted out of the squad, despite displaying some solid form in the County Championship and boasting a formidable record for Surrey.
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In his first few matches this year, Foakes registered scores of 46, 81, 34, 57 and 72. Moreover, his First-Class career average of 42 in over 80 matches shows his impressive consistency. He has been robbed of a place in this England side at the expense of Buttler’s few headline-grabbing IPL performances.

Ultimately the England selectors have shown the County circuit how little faith they have in the system. Ed Smith, you have got this one wrong.

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