AkasnhLAST UPDATED: Aug. 9, 2020, 2:52 p.m.
Manchester: After playing a vital inning in the second innings of the first Test match against Pakistan, Jos Buttler has admitted to having doubts about his Test match credentials and recognises that he still got a lot do for the fight of his place in the current England team.
Buttler had a poor match with both gloves and bat before scoring a gritty 75 runs as part of a match-winning partnership of 139 with Chris Woakes in the second innings of the first Test at Old Trafford.
"At times there have been some lonely nights thinking about it," Buttler said as his teammates celebrated the dramatic victory.
"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," Buttler was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
"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."
The wicket-keeper batsman also admitted to fearing for his place in the English side if he failed to deliver in the second innings of the first Test match but he went on to post one of the most memorable knocks of his career. His gritty innings runs came after England were reduced to 117-5. He fought alongside flamboyant all-rounder Chris Woakes in a partnership of 139 runs which turned out as a match-defining moment for England.
"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," he added.
"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 about 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."
At one stage Pakistan's victory looked nothing more than just a formality but the English batsmen didn't surrender. Buttler and Woakes staged a gritty comeback to push the tourists onto the back foot.
"I really enjoyed my partnership with Woakesy. 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 said.
"Only he will know which way around he did that. But I'm sure it's a very difficult thing not to think about it. 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."
"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."