For long MS Dhoni has been rated as the best wicketkeeper-batsman in white ball cricket but Australia captain Tim Paine is of the opinion that England’s Jos Buttler has surged ahead of the former Indian captain.
Buttler is in the form of his life, having played a pivotal role in England’s 5-0 rout of Australia in the just concluded ODI series.
Asked to rate Buttler, Paine, who himself is a ‘keeper-batsman said: “He’s good, he’s very good. Right now, he’d have to be the best white-ball wicket-keeper batsman in the world. “I don’t think there’s too many guys to challenge him. MS Dhoni is pretty good, but at this moment, Jos is at the absolute peak of his powers. He understands his one-day game so well and knows his strengths inside out and just doesn’t go away from him.”
Buttler scored 275 runs in the series with three not-outs including scores of 91*, 54* and 110*.
In fact, he singlehandedly won the final ODI for England with his hundred after the home team was trouble at 50 for five chasing 206.
Buttler has had a transformation since he played a stellar role for Rajasthan Royals with nearly 600 runs to his credit. He was recalled to the Test team and he responded with two half-centuries in the drawn series against Pakistan.
In fact, Paine feels that Australian batsmen can take a cue from Buttler.
“He’s someone for our batters to watch and see first hand. Those experiences are going to be really good for D’Arcy Short or Travis Head to see him and Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy at their best,” Paine added.
Doubts over future
Paine further cast doubt over his one-day international future following the romping. The wicket-keeper batsman’s appointment as skipper for ODI series was a stop-gap measure as was mentioned by chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns at the time.
Paine, leading the side in suspended Steve Smith’s absence, scored just 36 runs in the series as England outclassed the World Cup holders with their powerful batting lineup.
Fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey played the final two games in Durham and at Old Trafford, but only as a batsman, and has been appointed vice-captain for the sole Twenty20 match against England on June 27 and their T20 tour of Zimbabwe in July. Aaron Finch is Australia’s T20 captain.
“All I know is I was coming here to do this series and I’ve said a few times before, when you are my age it’s a bit foolish to look ahead,” Paine told Cricket Australia’s website.
“Certainly, I am really looking forward to captaining the test team and continuing how I have been playing in that format.
“But where I go with the rest of my cricket is something we will discuss in the coming weeks.”
Paine, however, said his struggles with the bat in England had been tough. “Its been difficult, you play cricket to do well and this series I haven’t done that,” Paine, whose highest score in the series was 15, added. “I haven’t played anywhere near as well as I would have liked to.
“That happens and it’s certainly not through a lack of effort, I am trying my guts out and working really hard, I have just had one of those series.
“I started off poorly and couldn’t get it back on track.”
Despite the series defeat, Paine believes it is too early to write off Australia’s chances at next year’s World Cup being hosted by England and Wales.
“We’ve got a number of players who weren’t in this squad who have played in and won World Cups. They know what it takes,” Paine added.
“Cricket Australia as an organisation knows what it takes and whilst I’ve heard a few times this team looks like it hasn’t got a plan or doesn’t know where it’s going, we’ve got a clear direction, we know where we’re going.”
As well as their suspended skipper and vice-captain, Australia were also without injured fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for the series, with the trio expected to thrive in English conditions next year.