The name of Jos Buttler may not have been enshrined on everybody’s lips when England began their ODI series against Australia this January, especially when the tourists collapsed to an insurmountable 3-0 deficit after being whitewashed 5-0 in the Ashes series. Yet the young Lancashire cricketer has proved in three of the four one day matches that respectable scores can be achieved against Australian bowlers.
By top scoring on 71 runs from 43 balls, Buttler helped England to finally record an international victory on Australian soil during this long and difficult tour, when victory was clinched in the 4th ODI contest. Providing further meaningful assistance was Ben Stokes who further enhanced his growing reputation. That the hosts fielded a weakened batting line-up should not detract from the performances of these two promising English cricketers.
Stokes was the only touring batsman to register a century during the ill-fated Ashes series and his 70 runs combined with a 4 wicket haul during this triumph earmarks him as a potential mainstay of future England international squads. He may have now earned his place as the number one all-rounder for his country.
Buttler has only failed in one ODI innings on this tour and his other three scores are vivid proof of his obvious potential. 34 not out from 24 balls in the first match followed by 49 from 36 deliveries in the second game are noteworthy achievements alongside his competence behind the stumps.
It may be too early to describe him as a natural replacement for Matt Prior as first choice wicketkeeper but at only 23 years of age there is sufficient time for him to gain much more experience especially at county level in England. Having served Somerset for four seasons, he has now signed to play for promoted Lancashire for the forthcoming season although his appearances may now be affected by the whims of the England selectors.
There is no doubting his one day capabilities with his swashbuckling style suited to the limited over game, but honing that ability to full test level will be the next challenge for his developing talent. The Ashes series proved that England do need some young blood within the ranks with batsmen capable of building a sustained innings in a responsible manner.
A long and possibly painful post -mortem will be conducted on the failures of the England team upon their eventual return home, but the performances of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler do offer some hope for the future of England cricket. That is perhaps one consolation which can be derived from the ruins of this morale sapping tour.
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