Buttler sets sights on Test spot
Jos Buttler is confident he can hone his limited-overs brilliance for Test cricket, but recognizes he might not be quite ready for it.
The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman produced one of the best one-day international innings ever seen by an Englishman, albeit in defeat, against Sri Lanka at Lord's on Saturday.
Buttler gave the most eyecatching demonstration yet of his immense power and range of shot in a maiden international century which gave England hope when there had been none, in pursuit of 300 for nine.
Ultimately, they fell eight runs short of a victory which would have clinched the Royal London series a match early.
England's new era will therefore have to wait until Edgbaston on Tuesday to discover whether a first series success is to be delivered under the regime of returning coach Peter Moores and captain Alastair Cook.
Buttler, meanwhile, had his timing spot on with an innings of 121 from only 74 balls - because England will be naming their squad this week for the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka.
Matt Prior has yet to prove form and fitness thanks to an Achilles injury which prevented him restating his case at the start of this season after he was dropped for the final two Tests of England's Ashes whitewash last winter.
Buttler and others described his Lord's century, the quickest by an England player at HQ, as his best performance to date.
Yet afterwards, there was an uncanny echo from the man himself of Cook's insistence that Buttler's Test debut will have to wait.
"I haven't discussed it with the management or Alastair," he said.
"(But) I am not ready for Test match cricket.
"It is a pretty easy assumption to make, looking at my game and where I am as a player.
"That is my honest opinion, and that is the opinion of others."
Buttler believes he has work to do in front and behind the stumps to become Prior's long-term successor - but that is his plan nonetheless.
"It is my hope and ambition to turn into someone who is talked about as a Test cricketer as quickly as I can.
"I average 32 in first-class cricket - and if I wasn't playing one-day cricket, I would not be at the forefront of anyone's mind with an average like that.
"My glovework needs to improve too, to be a Test match cricketer."
Buttler has been batting consistently against the red ball this summer, since moving from his native Somerset to Lancashire.
He is encouraged, yet far from convinced that means he should be England's wicketkeeper-batsman back at Lord's next week - whether Prior is fit or not.
"I made the change to Lancashire to improve my wicketkeeping, and do it full time.
"You have to remember it takes time. You can't be a finished article at 23.
"You want to accelerate your development, but you want to be realistic as well.
"I am getting better. This is probably the best start I have had to a first-class season.
"I am starting to learn my method in four-day cricket."
There is precedent, close to home - or what used to be Buttler's home at any rate - for Test cricketers to be fast-tracked to the top without compelling statistics against their name.
Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick made the jump emphatically in the late 1990s, yet still the opener's first-class average trails his Test figure of almost 44.
Buttler would be delighted if he ends up in the same bracket.
"I hope so," he said. "Marcus Trescothick's first-class average was not that great when he played Test cricket.
"Certain guys are earmarked to play Test cricket - and based on someone's opinion, they think they can do it.
"It would be great if that was the case for me but ... I have so many areas to improve at a fast rate.
"It is down to me to do that."
He will be happy to continue the process, after Tuesday's decider, back in the Lancashire ranks - and in the sprint format too - alongside former England Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff.
The all-rounder is perhaps set for a much-discussed comeback on Friday, against Yorkshire at Old Trafford in the NatWest T20 Blast - at 36, almost five years after he last played as a professional.
Buttler said: "He has got to get in the team (first), I guess.
"(But) I think it is great for someone whose career is cut short.
"He is a superstar of the game, a legend of English cricket - and for anyone in the Lancashire team, getting the chance to share a dressing room with him has so many positives.
"I think it is great to play in the same team with Andrew Flintoff."