Jos Buttler scored an important 67 from No. 6 in England’s recent series-clinching win at Emirates Old Trafford. On the recent Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Wisden.com managing editor Ben Gardner argued Buttler is better suited to bat at No. 6, not No. 7, in Test cricket.
Buttler only had the opportunity to bat at No. 6 after England opted to field an extra bowler with Ben Stokes unable to bowl in the series decider. Coming in with England in a precarious position at 122-4, Buttler put on 140 with Ollie Pope to help hand England the initiative. Buttler averages more than 10 runs per dismissal higher at No. 6 than at No.7.
Ben Gardner: “Buttler did bat very well in this Test match and for me it was interesting that it came at No. 6 where his record is actually very good; he averages over 40 there which is one of the best for England [at No.6] this century. He’s such a confusing Test cricketer because you think with the skillset he has in one-day cricket, he can come out first ball and start teeing off but actually, he’s essentially just a proper batsman. Almost, the issue with him at No.7 is that he’s not allowed to do that.
“When you’re able to hit sixes off basically any ball, possibly, then you’re not going to shepherd the tail as well because you can think, ‘I could just hit three sixes here’ and you end up getting out.
“Rather than someone who might be more limited at No. 7 will just take the singles on offer and you hit the bad ball for four and you end up milking more runs that way. There isn’t a space for Buttler in the team at No. 6 at the moment but that [his half-century] showed the template for him, he should be a proper a batsman at No. 7 and have that same mentality even if he does end up batting with a No. 10 or 11.
Yas Rana: “I found his innings quite strange. It was really important in terms of the match situation. At 122-4, England could have been skittled for around 200 as they were in the first Test. I think Buttler potentially benefitted from the West Indies getting their selection wrong. When Buttler was on 18, Rahkeem Cornwall came on, Jason Holder then bowled a couple more overs before Roston Chase was brought on. Buttler is a very, very good player of spin and Cornwall and Chase are not going to worry Jos Buttler. Ollie Pope and Buttler made hay against that pair of spinners. Buttler did very well and England benefitted from it but I think Buttler in particular benefitted from West Indies not playing Alzarri Joseph [in favour of the additional spin option of Cornwall.]”
You can listen to the full Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast discussion on England’s series win over West Indies on the Podcast App or Spotify.