Jos Buttler thought the first Test against Pakistan might be his last in an England shirt before he played a vital hand of 75 to give his side a sensational victory.
England triumphed by three wickets, having looked down and out at several times throughout the contest. They conceded a lead of 107 in the first innings, before bouncing back to bowl Pakistan out for 169. Chasing 277, they were once again struggling at 117-5 before Buttler and Chris Woakes put on 139 – a record for England for the sixth wicket in Test chases – to turn the game on its head.
Buttler’s position was already under scrutiny coming into this Test, with the right-hander averaging 31.63 after 44 Tests, with only one century to his name. Though he was second top-scorer in the first innings, had a poor game with the gloves, spurning two chances off Shan Masood when the opener was 45 – he went on to make 156. With Ben Foakes, rated as one of the best glovemen in the world, waiting in the wings, plenty were calling for Buttler to be dropped from the side, and the Lancastrian admitted he was feeling the pressure.
“Definitely thoughts go through your head. ‘Potentially if I don’t score any runs, I’ve played my last game’,” he told Sky Sports Cricket. “Those are the kind of things that are in your head, but you’ve got to try and shut them out and try and focus on the here and now and play the situation and I’m pleased that I was able to do that.”
However, he admitted that his keeping needed to improve, and acknowledged that his profligacy had cost innings. “I’d like to say if I take those chances, we’d have won two hours ago,” he said. “I’m very aware I didn’t keep well. I missed some chances and at this level you can’t afford to do that, no matter how many runs you score. You’ve got to be better, I know that.”