Jos Buttler hints 'superstar' Ben Stokes will bat higher

Jos Buttler indicated "superstar" Ben Stokes will have a role higher up the batting order in England's T20 series against Australia and the World Cup.

Buttler will return from a niggling calf strain on Sunday in the first of three matches against Australia, with Stokes likely to make his first T20 international appearance since March 2021.

Stokes' record in the shortest format is surprisingly modest but the talismanic all-rounder has batted just three times in the top-four and never in successive matches, which looks set to change.

"Ben Stokes is someone we want to try and give as much opportunity to impact the game as possible - so try and get him up the order as high as we can," Buttler said.

"Ben's a superstar of the game and absolutely someone you want in your team. Both on the field and off the field, he brings so much to the group.

"I just see a lot of excitement to have him back around, we know what a brilliant player he is, we'll give him as much responsibility as possible and allow him to play his way to get the best out of him."

Buttler is "back to 100 per cent" after two months out but was coy about the identity of his opening partner at Perth's Optus Stadium, with the presumptive shoot-out between Alex Hales and Phil Salt.

Hales' experience and past success in Australia's Big Bash League means he is the favourite to land the role just a fortnight away from England beginning their World Cup campaign at the same venue.

They will attempt to become the first nation to hold both men's World Cups simultaneously but while England's top-six was cemented in their 2019 50-over triumph and only disrupted during the tournament because of an injury to Jason Roy, Buttler is open to the idea of a late bolter on this occasion.

"We always have an idea of what we think is our strongest XI but the game can be unpredictable and maybe someone plays fantastically well and forces their way into the XI," England's white-ball captain said.

"There's always opportunities for guys to force their way into the team and guys play well and put their hand up and demand selection, and that's exactly what you want, people playing well in the team.

"I think T20's an interesting format in the sense that sometimes consistency isn't what you're looking for either, you're looking for that match-winning capability.

"Guys can miss out two games, three games in a row but when that opportunity comes they stamp their mark and win a game, that sort of match-winning ability is vital in T20 cricket."

Buttler regards England as a formidable prospect ahead of the World Cup but believes holders and hosts Australia are favourites as the Ashes rivals prepare for a series which has had a low-key build-up.

"I think (matches between England and Australia) always holds something a little special," Buttler said. "I'm sure both teams have got one eye on the World Cup, of course there is the bigger picture.

"I certainly don't see us as favourites. I see us as a very dangerous side that opposition will be wary of playing against but I think Australia are one of the favourites for the tournament.

"I think it's a great challenge for us to go up against them and get really battle-hardened in Australian conditions against the team that knows the conditions best."

England, fresh from a 4-3 series win in Pakistan, will be without the injured Liam Livingstone while several of their contingent are still battling jet lag, but their opponents will be severely depleted.

A frontline bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, plus Glenn Maxwell, did not travel to Perth on Saturday, having beaten the West Indies on Friday in Brisbane, although the quintet are expected to come back into the fold for next week's double-header in Canberra.

"It's probably a smart move," Buttler added. "It's quite a long flight from Brisbane to Perth so this close to a World Cup, it's a pretty smart move to do."

Latest news