England on Tuesday recalled batsman Jos Buttler in their 12-man squad for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s on May 24. In the first England squad since former Test batsman Ed Smith took over as national selector, Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess was given a first call-up. But, after England’s tour series losses in Australia and New Zealand, top-order batsman James Vince was dropped after a run of low scores at Test level despite the Hampshire batsman making an unbeaten 201 against Somerset on Monday. Buttler, widely regarded as one of the most talented English batsmen of his generation, last played Test cricket when he batted down the order. The 27-year-old has had a frustrating 18-match career in Test cricket, with his last appearance in the format against India at Chennai in December 2016.
Having made an impact at international level as a wicket-keeper/batsman, Buttler has been selected for the first of a two-Test series against Pakistan purely as a batsman.
Jonny Bairstow, who succeeded Buttler as England’s Test keeper, has retained his place behind the stumps having become a mainstay of skipper Joe Root’s side with both bat and gloves.
Buttler is currently playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League, where his last three scores have been 95, 94 and 81.
– ‘Outstanding talent’ –
But he has not played first-class cricket for Lancashire, his English county, since the end of last season. “Jos Buttler is an outstanding talent, who is already a central part of England’s white ball teams,” said Smith in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
“The selection panel feels that this is the perfect moment to reintroduce Jos to Test cricket, where he has already enjoyed some success, including a stint playing as a specialist batsman at number seven.
“Jos is playing with great confidence and flair, and he will bring unique qualities to the Test team.”
Bess, 20, has played just 16 first-class matches, having made his debut for Somerset against Pakistan at Taunton in 2016.
But he starred for MCC in the Champion County match against Essex in March where he took eight wickets in the match and scored a century in a victory over the county Champions in Barbados.
An injury to Somerset team-mate Jack Leach has paved the way for Bess’s inclusion as the lone specialist spinner in a squad after England decided against recalling Moeen Ali.
“Dom Bess has made an excellent start to his first-class career,” said Smith.
“With Jack Leach missing out due to injury, the selection panel wanted to invest opportunity in a young spin bowler.
“Dom’s strong form, character and all-round abilities presented a compelling case for selection.”
England 12-man squad to play Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s, May 24-28:
Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt), Dom Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Alastair Cook (Essex), Dawid Malan (Middlesex),Ben Stokes (Durham), Mark Stoneman (Surrey), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
(With AFP Inputs)