England captain Joe Root has confirmed that senior wicketkeeper-batter Jos Buttler will be back as vice-captain for the fifth and final Test against India at Old Trafford.
Admitting that Buttler did not perform to expectations with the bat in the first three Tests, Root backed him to come good.
Buttler gave The Oval Test a miss to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. He was blessed with a baby girl on September 5.
At a virtual press conference ahead of the last Test, Root was asked if Buttler would play the Manchester Test. He confirmed by saying:
“Yes, Jos (Buttler) will be back as vice-captain and he will keep wickets.”
On whether Buttler would replace Ollie Pope or Jonny Bairstow, the England captain replied:
“That is something that we will consider over the next couple of days.”
Pope came into the team for the fourth Test in place of Buttler and top-scored with 81 in the first innings. Bairstow took the gloves for the game but failed with the bat, scoring 37 and 0.
Buttler, who turned 31 on Wednesday, also struggled for runs in the first three Tests. He has only scored 72 runs at an average of 14.40. Admitting that the experienced batter’s performance has been below expectations, Root asserted:
“Jos is the vice-captain of the team. He is a senior player and he is integral to what we are about. I know his output in terms of runs this series hasn’t been as high as he would have liked. But we know what a great player he is and how important he can be to turning a Test match.”
Although he has struggled in the series, Buttler played a defiant knock in the second innings at Lord’s, scoring a 96-ball 25.
“Part and parcel of playing at the highest level” – Root on Buttler taking back gloves from Bairstow
With Buttler coming back into the squad, he will automatically become the first-choice keeper. Asked whether making Bairstow keep wickets for only one Test was unfair, the England captain replied in the negative.
“I think Jonny (Bairstow) knew exactly what the scenario was when given that opportunity to keep wickets last week. This change within Test cricket happens, whether you are left out or whether you are moved around, it is part and parcel of playing at the highest level.
“Sometimes you have to deal with so much and things that you don’t agree with. I don’t necessarily think that will be the case with Jonny. He’s a big part of what we have been as a squad for a long time now and he will understand it. As I said, Jos is the vice-captain. He is going to come back in and I expect him to perform,” Root said.
The fifth and final match of the five-Test series begins on September 10, with India leading 2-1.
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