Ed Smith says he was 'absolutely committed' to recalling Jos Buttler to England's Test team
Smith on Jennings: "I would say Keaton has had a very tough reintroduction to Test cricket and that should be taken into account as we move forward."
Last Updated: 10/09/18 12:26pm
England's National selector Ed Smith told Sky Sports he was "absolutely committed" to recalling Jos Buttler and has backed him to become a "very fine" Test cricketer.
Smith picked Buttler at the start of the Test summer, despite the 28-year-old having played a paucity of red-ball cricket over the last few years, as he looked to stamp his authority on England's five-day side.
Buttler has repaid Smith's faith by scoring over 500 runs in seven Tests against Pakistan and India, with five fifty-plus scores, including a maiden Test century, against Virat Kohli's men at Trent Bridge.
"One of my attitudes to selection is that there has to be a compelling reason not to have one of your top players in the team and I couldn't see any way Buttler was not in our seven best batsmen," Smith told Sky Sports' Michael Atherton ahead of day four of the fifth Test at The Oval.
"I also feel he has the potential, due to his character, technique and mastery, to go on and adapt to Test cricket and not just become a good player, but a really fine Test cricketer.
"It's a pick I was absolutely committed to happening and the way he has played has been a positive. I never doubted Buttler had the ability or that he would repay that investment.
"It was a challenge for me as I knew it was different. It would have been an easy criticism to say he hadn't played any red-ball cricket and if it had gone wrong I would have been the one to have borne that risk, which is fine.
"When I took the job I said I was going to have the courage of what I believe - if I believe something to be right, I won't shy away from doing it, even if it's potentially going to play really badly if it goes wrong."
Smith also made the bold decision to recall Yorkshire spinner Adil Rashid, who quit red-ball cricket with his county ahead of the 2018 season.
The leg-spinner, picked on the back of some excellent white-ball form against India and Australia, has taken eight wickets in five Tests but failed to bat, bowl, take a catch or impact a run out during England's innings win at Lord's last month.
"There was a complicated backdrop where Adil had stepped away from playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire, so we wanted to make sure he was committed to playing Test cricket for England and it was something he really wanted to do," said Smith.
"I also wanted to make sure the coach [Trevor Bayliss] and captain [Joe Root] were behind it and I think we were unanimous on it.
"When you select you are bringing on to the field someone who has the capacity to positively influence a game.
"With the exception of Lord's, he has contributed in every game - his stand of 43 with Jos [in the first innings at The Oval] radically shifted the game."
Smith added that he believes Keaton Jennings can thrive as a Test opener - the left-hander made 23 and 10 at The Oval and averages 22.09 after 12 matches across two spells as Alastair Cook's partner.
However, Smith suggested that, with Cook retiring and conditions in England this summer being extremely bowler-friendly, Jennings will be retained for November's tour of Sri Lanka.
"We have to look at the opening position after Alastair's retirement so we will have a full and open conversation about all the options," added the former Kent and Middlesex batsman.
"But in the analysis of this summer I think it has been misunderstood the extent to which the ball has moved extravagantly. I have never seen the ball swing and seam as much as it has done this summer and some of the pitches have turned as well. That has to be taken into account.
"Some of the people who have dropped out of the side have had a full year of international cricket before that decision was made, some of which pre-date me.
"I would say Keaton has had a very tough reintroduction to Test cricket and that should be taken into account as we move forward."
Hit play on the video above to hear more from Smith, including on the Test summer, Ollie Pope's selection and England's strong middle order.
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