Jos Buttler’s maiden Test century has provided him with his proudest moment as an England cricketer – whatever the format.
Buttler (106) and Ben Stokes (62) defied India in a fifth-wicket stand of 169 which helped to take the third Specsavers Test into a final day – albeit with England on 311 for nine and therefore bound for almost certain defeat, still 210 runs behind at Trent Bridge.
Barring a double-century last-wicket stand between Adil Rashid and James Anderson, England will head to Southampton for next week’s penultimate Test with only a 2-1 series lead.
Buttler therefore admitted to a tinge of regret he and Stokes could not defy an India attack led by Jasprit Bumrah (five for 85) even longer – but after recording his first Test hundred, in his 38th innings and four years after his debut, he rightly allowed himself a smile of satisfaction too.
“This is definitely the proudest moment in an England shirt,” said the 27-year-old. “It was really satisfying.
“It has been a long time coming, and a few months ago it was a million miles away.”
Buttler, one of the stars of England’s white-ball teams and leading light too at the Indian Premier League, was out of the Test reckoning until new national selector Ed Smith brought him back at the start of this summer.
Asked how his breakthrough Test century compares with his many limited-overs highs, he said: “It’s a lot more fulfilment, probably.
“It’s just been a longer time coming, I think. It proves to me I can do it, and I’m hungry to go and do it again.”
Buttler feared this was a day that would never come for him.
“It’s a huge moment for me,” he added. “I’m delighted, a little bit lost for words, but delighted. To prove you can do it, that’s a huge part of it.
“I was never sure if I’d ever play Test cricket again. All those thoughts go through your head while you’re out there as well when you start to get close.
“I never thought this would happen, so I had to try and make sure it did. Definitely there were times when I thought that race was run.”
His and Stokes’ skill and resolve will not save this Test for England, but he believes their efforts are nonetheless significant collectively as well as personally.
“It was very important for us to turn up today and show a lot of character and fight and not give it to India easily – make them work hard.
“We did that really well throughout the day – even the two guys there at the end, making sure we do come back tomorrow.
“It showed that, no matter what it is, we’re not going to roll over. It’s disappointing I couldn’t make it last a bit longer.”
Jasprit eventually dismissed Buttler lbw with the second new ball.
He said: “We were happy that even when the ball got older we always had the belief that if we keep on applying pressure, some time or the other we will get the result.”
– England’s Stuart Broad has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee and handed one demerit point by the International Cricket Council for his send off of Rishabh Pant in India’s first innings.