Jos Buttler shows Ian Bell there is a way back into England team

Jos Buttler’s 46-ball century came after he was dropped from the England team, an experience Ian Bell will be hoping he can learn from

The focus here, as opposed to other parts of the globe, has been on an astounding innings (by Jos Buttler), a surprising omission (of Ian Bell) rather than an allegedly dodgy match (in Sharjah). It is amazing the impact that a few hastily composed tweets, almost as hastily deleted, can have if they are delivered by a former England captain.

The England camp certainly does not give the impression that they are concerned by any suspicions about the validity of their victory in the third ODI. Mind you, Trevor Bayliss, with his slow, amiable drawl seldom seems to be too concerned about anything, which is one of his virtues as a coach.

Like his captain, Eoin Morgan, Bayliss professed to be speechless at Buttler’s astonishing 46-ball century in Dubai on Friday night. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him do something like that live. I’m not sure if I’ve got words to describe it.” Then he had a go. “It was fantastic.”

Bayliss will not have seen much of England until June but he has been on the international circuit for a while. Who else could produce an innings like that? “De Villiers, maybe Maxwell on his day; I’ve seen Kohli do similar types of things as well. But there are very few in the world who can play like that.”

Bayliss outlined a very credible theory. “An old mate of mine, an Australian selector a few years ago, said to me, ‘There’s nothing like a good dropping to get a player back on track.’ It’s not that he [Buttler] wasn’t trying hard enough, but when he was left out [after the Test match in Dubai] a definite relief came over him. It just allowed him to get away, refresh his thinking and it’s done him the world of good. No one ever likes to get dropped but he’s shown what a good team man he is. That Test that he got dropped for, he was always out throwing balls for his team-mates.”

Bayliss acknowledged that Buttler had given the tour management something to think about when the next Test team is selected for the first Test against South Africa in Durban on Boxing Day. However, the assumption remains that Jonny Bairstow is the man in possession of the gloves for Test cricket.

We know for certain that Bell will not be in Durban and Bayliss’s comments about the virtues of being dropped could well apply in his case as well. Bayliss explained how they came to the decision to omit Bell. “The discussion point was obviously his experience. We do need experience in the team, but where we ended up was that he hadn’t been scoring runs over the last year or two, periodically anyway. We decided just to give him a bit of time away from the game and to refresh, but also to give some newer, fresher guys that opportunity. Looking forward, Belly’s certainly got it within him to get back in the team.”

Technically, Liam Plunkett has not been dropped, since he has not been in the Test team recently, but with the injuries of Mark Wood and Steven Finn he might have expected a place in the squad. With more matter-of-fact candour Bayliss said: “We’ve got two or three guys who at this stage we think are in front of Liam. [Mark]Footitt coming in gives us something different being left-arm and swinging the ball. People love having Liam around and he always gives you 100%. It’s tough on him but that’s just the way the game is at the top level.”

No doubt Plunkett will be given an outing in a T20 match against the UAE on Monday. Scant consolation.

Remaining tour matches: Monday T20 v UAE (Abu Dhabi, 3pm); Thu First T20 v Pakistan (Dubai, 4pm), Fri Second T20 (Dubai, 4pm), 30 Nov Third T20 (Sharjah, 4pm)


Vic Marks in Dubai

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