Root backs Buttler as England keeper

Rory Dollard
·2-min read

As Joe Root prepares to kick off a bumper 2021 for English cricket he has made it clear there is nobody he would rather have behind the stumps than Jos Buttler.

England's Test squad departed for Sri Lanka on Saturday after a fully clear round of COVID-19 screening and, once a mandatory fortnight of quarantine and acclimatisation is ticked off in Hambantota, it is straight into a pair of Test matches in Galle.

It was that very ground where Ben Foakes made his international debut in 2018, taming the turning track to post an accomplished century in his first Test innings followed by a rapid 37 to help set up a declaration.

The Surrey man was equally impressive with the gloves, marking his introduction with two catches, a stumping and a run out, before going on to win both player of the match and player of the series.

If there was ever a place Foakes might fancy his chances of adding to his five caps, then, it is in the shadows of the city's famous Dutch fort. Yet as far as Root is concerned, there is simply no vacancy.

Buttler played some of his best cricket in England whites in the team's previous series against Pakistan, with a nerveless 75 helping reel in a seemingly doomed chase at Old Trafford followed by a wonderful 152 at Southampton.

"We'll look at the conditions, consider everything and make a call when we're out there," said Root, before dropping a fairly liberal hint that some names were already inked in.

"What I will say is we've got Jos Buttler coming off the back of a 150 and in probably some of the best form you've seen him in in Test cricket.

"As far as I'm concerned, it will have to be a really unique situation for that to change.

"Jos, as a senior member of the squad in great form, was an integral part of our success in the back end of the summer. I'm really excited for him to carry that form forward."

There was some succour for Foakes, who can certainly consider himself highly unfortunate not to have had a lengthier initial stay in the XI.

National selector Ed Smith has already suggested there will be rest periods during the India tour, which follows immediately on from Sri Lanka, and an all-format player like Buttler stands at the head of that queue.

"For Ben, at some point there is a likelihood that an opportunity might arise and when he gets that opportunity he's got to take it," added Root.