England batsman Jos Buttler says he did not “kick his heels” and feel like a “failure” during his absence from the Test team – because he could play in Twenty20 tournaments around the world.
Buttler, 27, hit two fifties during the recent 1-1 series draw with Pakistan following his recall to the Test side.
He played only four first-class matches in 17 months out of Test cricket, instead appearing in the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League.
“The last two years helped,” he said.
“I haven’t kicked my heels and been saying I’m a failure in Test cricket, regretting how it went, because there are so many other amazing opportunities elsewhere.”
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Buttler hit 80 not out, including 35 off his final 11 balls, to help England post 363 against Pakistan on Sunday as the hosts won by an innings and 55 runs inside three days to level the series.
He said knowing there are other options away from Test cricket “frees you up in your mind” but added he wants to be an England regular in Test, one-day and T20 cricket.
“Hopefully I will have to juggle Test and white-ball responsibilities because that will mean I’ve been successful,” he said.
‘I was a real wildcard pick’
Buttler’s Test recall came after an impressive spell for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, during which he scored 548 runs in 13 innings – including five consecutive half-centuries.
He has made only four County Championship appearances for Lancashire over the past two seasons.
Buttler said he gained “a lot of confidence” from both his form and the backing of new national selector Ed Smith.
“Those weeks in the IPL gave me huge amounts of confidence, being in pressure situations in front of big crowds as well as the pressure of being the overseas player,” he said.
“I’m trying now not to worry about the colour of the ball. It definitely helps having put in good performances elsewhere.
“Coming into the Pakistan series with someone putting so much faith in me as a real wildcard pick also gave me a lot of confidence, having him say: ‘I’m backing you to play, I think you’re good enough.'”
Buttler hit five half-centuries in his first eight Tests prior to the 2015 Ashes, but passed 50 only once more in his next 10 Tests. He was dropped following a 2-0 series defeat by Pakistan in October 2015 and dropped again after a 4-0 series defeat by India in December 2016.
Prior to his 80 not out at Headingley, he made 67 in the nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s last month.
“At the end of my first stint in Test cricket I started to think too much about how to not get out as opposed to how to score runs,” he said.
“I got in a bad rut that I just couldn’t get out of. The only way to get out of it was to be dropped and actually that released a lot of pressure.
“The big difference now is experience. When I was a young player I didn’t really believe in experience when the older guys told me I’d improve with experience or understand it in time.
“But now I fully understand how valuable experience and maturity are – those things help you deal with not only the on-field stuff but everything that goes around it.”