In the wake of Andy Flower’s departure as team director, there was a clamour for change within the international set-up – on and off the field – with a crushing Ashes defeat signalling the end of a cycle that had carried England to the top of the world and back again.
Those calls may not have been heeded as quickly as many would have liked, with further regression made under the second tenure of Peter Moores.
Personnel adjustments have started to trickle through though, across the board, with the promise of more to come from the likes of Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Jos Buttler.
The latter on that list has broken through into the Test arena after cutting his teeth within the limited-overs ranks and proving himself to be a more than capable successor to Matt Prior.
Buttler is every inch a modern day wicketkeeper, with the 24-year-old confident with the gloves and explosive with the bat.
Having impressed on debut against India in the summer of 2014 and landed himself a central contract, faith has been shown in a man who ticks a couple of important boxes for Moores and captain Alastair Cook – competent keeper and useful middle-order batsman.
It remains to be seen if Buttler can kick on from here, but the early signs are promising and former England international Warren Hegg – something of a mentor figure at Lancashire – has no doubt that a bright future lies ahead for a talented and determined character.
Hegg, speaking as he penned a congratulation message to Jimmy Anderson as part of Slazenger’s celebratory flag tour, told HITC Sport during a phone interview: “I’ve watched Jos day in, day out performing here with Lancashire and with England and I think his keeping is coming on leaps and bounds. He’s worked extremely hard on his game, he’s got a great work ethic and he’s got the most important thing that you need to be a keeper, he’s got great hands. He’ll probably be the first to admit that he isn’t the finished article yet, there is definitely scope for improvement, but he’s got the character and the drive to make himself into the best wicketkeeper/batsman he can be.”
Hegg added on the international door swinging open for Buttler: “In professional sport, whatever the sport you are playing, you’ll always get opportunities and being in the right place at the right time is sometimes what you need. It was an unfortunate injury to Matt Prior and he’s taken the gloves. He has got a great opportunity over this summer with the Ashes and against New Zealand to show what he can do.”
Hegg also believes that Buttler has benefitted from a geographical switch at domestic level, with the decision taken to leave Somerset for Lancashire in 2013.
Playing at Old Trafford certainly appears to have aided his cause, with an important grounding in the county game allowing him to make the step up to Test match performer with apparent ease.
Hegg added: “I think a change of scenery is good, to keep on different wickets, to come to a Test ground to keep on a wicket that you’re not going to get much to do on some days, it’s such a good pitch, but when you do have to take a catch or a stumping, that concentration level is always going to be there which will stand him in good stead for Test match cricket, playing on similar pitches. His batting takes care of itself – he’s explosive, he hits the ball as hard as anyone – but the other asset he has got is being a keeper and he has to make sure that part of his game is up to scratch.”
Buttler certainly seems to be deserving of the hype and will be hoping to nail down his international post during the current tour of the West Indies, freeing him to play with confidence and flair during an important summer that will bring another full-blooded Ashes encounter with old adversaries Australia.
Former England international Warren Hegg was signing Slazenger’s ‘Congratulations Jimmy’ flag which will be touring the country this week. Slazenger is celebrating Jimmy Anderson becoming England’s all time leading test wicker by giving 10% off its entire cricket range. Visit store.slazenger.com and follow @SlazengerSport for more details.