I can see all three sides of this debate. I was strongly in favor of Buttler’s recall in 2018, and he hit really well for the first year. His heats the other day were also amazing. He’s in a strange position in that while all three contenders are in great shape, Bairstow is the best batsman and Foakes the best goalie. But Buttler has a unique ability and last Saturday could / should hold him accountable as much.
The hold doesn’t bother me as much as it should, especially when the ball wobbles, although it will likely cost England in Asia. I thought Foakes was treated appallingly last year, but at this exact moment I think Buttler deserves to keep his place. The only certainty is that we’ll be having this conversation in some form or another in just about every test over the next 3-4 years. And it will get even more complicated when Bairstow clears 327 of 307 balls for Yorkshire this week.
(By the way, I think an average of 40 is a red herring. Hitting has become so hard in Test Cricket – the hardest I can remember since the mid-90s – that 35 is the new 40. If Buttler averaging 35, pulling off the occasional miracle victory and holding on competently, I think England will be very happy. But my gut feeling is that in the first test in Brisbane in 15 months Bairstow will keep and hit No.7. )