- New Zealand XI v England XI, T20 warm-up, Whangarei
Buttler ready to take his England chance
Jos Buttler was delighted with his first half-century in an England shirt during a comfortable win in their tour match against a New Zealand XI. Buttler is set to take the gloves for England in the T20 series, and possibly in ODIs too, but it was with the bat that he made the most impression in Whangarei, smashing an unbeaten 57 from 24 balls.
With Craig Kieswetter dropping out of both limited-overs squads, England have Buttler and Jonny Bairstow to choose from behind the stumps. Bairstow keeps regularly for Yorkshire, while Buttler is Kieswetter's deputy at Somerset, but Buttler stepped up in place of his county team-mate during England's tour of India. Bairstow missed the T20 and ODI series against India due to a family illness and is likely to return to the side solely as a batsman, for the time being.
"It's something I've been working really hard on," Buttler said of his wicketkeeping. "It's great to get this opportunity to do it. I think I'm going to take the gloves for the series ... definitely for the Twenty20s, so that's what I'm concentrating on at the minute. I'm really excited about it, and today's a good start. It's great to know that's what's happening. I can really put my mind on it, and work hard in training on it."
Buttler described reaching his half-century, with six fours and three sixes, as a "proud moment", adding: "I better not get too far ahead of myself - tomorrow is another day. But I'm looking forward to the series."
Despite losing both openers with less than 50 on the board, England powered their way to an imposing 186 with some explosive hitting from the middle-order. The fast bowlers then chipped away at the New Zealand XI line-up, with three wickets apiece for Chris Woakes, Jade Dernbach and captain, Stuart Broad, who claimed a hat-trick.
"It was great to get our first win, and obviously it was a really good all-round performance from everyone," Buttler said. "I think as a blueprint for a batting plan, it was perfect. Wickets in hand at the end allow people to come in, as I did today, and score freely at the end.
"It was testament to the guys ahead of me. They realised it was a bit of hard work and, instead of playing any rash shots, they got through that hard period and built a brilliant position for me to come in at the end. It's the perfect way to set up a Twenty20 innings, for that explosive finish. With people like Jonny [Bairstow] and Samit [Patel] to come in, there's a lot of power. So it gives us that licence to be really aggressive."
Broad's hitch-free comeback from injury was another positive for England and Buttler was on hand to take the catch for his third wicket in as many balls. "It probably just sits behind his Test match hat-trick but I'm sure he really enjoyed it," Buttler said, referring to Broad's achievement against India at Trent Bridge in 2011. "It's great to have him back and bowling really well. A hat-trick is a great moment in any form of cricket."