Cricket news - Buttler admits doubting his 'Test match credentials' before Old Trafford heroics

Buttler's 75, and his 139-run partnership with Chris Woakes helped England go 1-0 up in the series

Buttler's 75, and his 139-run partnership with Chris Woakes helped England go 1-0 up in the series

After scoring a vital 75 in England's second innings to help his side to a three wicket victory over Pakistan in the first Test at Emirates Old Trafford, Jos Buttler has admitted to having doubts about his Test match credentials and recognises that he still has work to do to cement his place in the team.

Buttler had a poor match with the gloves in Manchester, missing three chances in Pakistan's first innings, including two off left-handed opener Shan Masood who went on to make a century. By Buttler's own admission, England's fourth innings chase would have been far more manageable had he been able to take either or both of those chances and his missteps added to the scrutiny he was already facing over his faltering returns with the bat since the start of last year.

"At times there's been some lonely nights thinking about it," Buttler said. "It's a feeling of relief more than enjoyment at the minute. As the wicketkeeper in this team you have to take chances and you have to keep better than I did in the first innings - I know that, I don't need other people to tell me that. I expect a lot of myself and to play international cricket there's a level required. And I have to be better - that's a stone-cold fact, there's no point trying to hide that.

"The only thing you can do to achieve that is hard work - hard work and belief, try and maintain belief. I think last summer, all the cricket we saw, Ben Stokes showed us a lot of times to never give up, great things might be just around the corner so a lot of times, personally, you've got to go to the well again - can you find the courage to put yourself back in the situation to give yourself another chance. I think you've got to work hard, try and get better. I know I have to keep wicket better."

Buttler even admitted to fearing for his place in the side if he failed to score runs in England's second innings. "Thoughts go through your head that if I don't score any runs I've maybe played my last game," he said. "But you have to shut those out and go and play your game. Having had some tough times I feel like my game's coming together with the bat. 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.

"It is difficult, especially in this day and age with the likes of social media. You're sat in your hotel room and don't leave the ground. But I think it's important to acknowledge those thoughts. It would be very unnatural to not be thinking those things. It's more about acknowledging them and trying to let them go and let them pass. And then let the positive thoughts you have, try and cling onto them a bit more. Show that character I feel like I've got within myself and that competitive spirit."

Buttler formed a 139 run sixth-wicket partnership in quick time with Chris Woakes which pulled England back from a perilous position of 117 for 5. At that stage, a Pakistan victory looked to be a formality but the aggression with which Buttler and Woakes played pushed the tourists onto the backfoot, a position from which they failed to recover. Against a high-class attack, Buttler and Woakes scored at more than four runs an over to deliver a remarkable victory for England, who take a one-nil lead into the second Test at the Ageas Bowl which begins on Thursday (August 13).

"I really enjoyed my partnership with Woakesy," Buttler said. "We tried to break it down into a bit of a one-day chase, and scored at four an over, to take the second new ball out of the equation. I'm delighted for him, he's certainly not undervalued in our team and our squad. He's a fantastic cricketer, and with another all-rounder like Stokes in the team he sometimes is overshadowed and he doesn't seek out the limelight."

Buttler's innings was all the more impressive given his father, John, had been taken into hospital on Friday evening. Following scans, he thankfully returned home on Saturday but Joe Root was full of praise for Buttler's ability to focus on the task at hand despite the concern he must have been feeling for his father. "It says a huge amount about him as a person, to be able to carry that, and to be able to use that or park that going into this innings," Root said.

"Only he will know which way around he did that. But I'm sure it's very difficult thing not to think about. To be able to deal with that and still play in that manner was exceptional. One of his big traits is that, under pressure, he puts in big performances. Another example of that was that final ODI [in 2018] against Australia on this very ground. You can deal with those high-pressure situations but to have that external pressure as well, I'm chuffed to bits for him, it must have been very difficult to deal with."

England have called up Sussex fast-bowler Ollie Robinson to their training group ahead of the second Test, putting him in line for a potential international debut. Given England's bowling attack for this opening game against Pakistan was the same as the one chosen for the final Test against West Indies, there could be some rotation of the bowlers for next week's second Test in Southampton. England already have Mark Wood and Sam Curran in their squad who could come in for Jofra Archer and James Anderson respectively.

"The extra day definitely will help," Root said after England wrapped their victory up with a day to spare in Manchester. "I think we'll have to be quite smart, as we were in the previous series, and we'll have to see how everyone pulls up. But we are in such a good position, with so many great options that all bases will be covered. We should have a very strong side, whatever the make-up of the Test side is."