Cricket

James Taylor-made to take Jos Buttler's England place, suggests Mike Gatting

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Former England captain Mike Gatting believes out-of-form wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is vulnerable to the selection axe ahead of the second Test against Pakistan.

Gatting has called on James Taylor, a batsman noted for his ability against spin, to be handed a long-awaited Test recall - with Buttler the player he thinks should make way.

The 25-year-old has endured a torrid time with the bat since the start of the Ashes, averaging just 14.9 in his past 10 innings, and could conceivably slip out of the team and hand the gloves over to Jonny Bairstow.

Gatting believes that would provide extra strength in England's batting without upsetting the balance of the XI to play in Dubai.

"For me, someone like Taylor has been unlucky yet again because he's a very good player of spin," Gatting told Press Association Sport.

"There's a possibility with someone like Bairstow in the team that you could have left Buttler out, sadly, but he could have kept and you could have kept Taylor in there - who is a very good player of spin alongside Joe Root."

Gatting holds some concerns over the ability of England's middle order to handle quality spin, with Pakistan set to recall first-choice leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

"Having Bairstow, Buttler, (Ben) Stokes - who have not played a great deal against spin - in what I'd call that engine room; against the seamers that's fine because that's what we do at home," he said.

"But to get those guys in against the spin - we saw (Nathan) Lyon bowl against them in the summer and they didn't find it that easy. It worries me slightly."

Despite Gatting's concerns, it remains to be seen whether England's selectors will want to tinker with a line-up which was only denied a memorable win at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi by bad light.

Buttler contributed scores of 23 and four - the latter innings during a race against the light as England chased a target of 99 - while Taylor has not played Test cricket since winning his two caps against South Africa in home conditions three years ago.

One batsman Gatting is sure England should stick with for the remainder of the series, and perhaps beyond, is promoted opener Moeen Ali, after questioning whether Alex Hales is ready for Test cricket.

"You don't like putting people in pockets and say he's a one-day player, can he play Test cricket?" Gatting said of Hales.

"He got a couple of good hundreds in Championship cricket, but going up a level is different.

"When you see Moeen batting down at seven or eight and playing the way he does, and the talent there, you think on flatter wickets and against spin, which he's good at, then he really should (open)."

Gatting was speaking in Antigua where he was part of the Lord's Taverners charity tour of the Caribbean island.

Gatting helped to hand over donated playing equipment, including Stokes' old England kit bag, to be used by young Antiguan cricketers.

Viv Richards, a strong advocate of the Lord's Taverners, accepted the kit before a celebrity charity match which included the likes of McBusted drummer and former Strictly Come Dancing winner Harry Judd and West Indies leading Test wicket-taker Courtney Walsh.

"One of the reasons we're here is for the Lord's Taverners' sports kit aid," Gatting added.

"We collect all the sports kit and redistribute it around the world to where people need the sports equipment where they can't afford it.

"It's a wonderful thing that they do. It's a great charity to work for and it's an easy thing to do and have some fun while you are raising money for those people."

A total of ?7,234 was also raised for the restoration of the St John's Cathedral, which sits in the heart of the Antiguan capital, and is just a hook shot away from where Richards grew up.

The 'Master Blaster' remains a revered figured on the island, famed for its 365 beaches and where he still lives, and which has produced some of the highest profile West Indies players despite a population of less than 100,000.

"It's a lovely part of the world and the West Indies itself has a lot of cricket history," Gatting added. "They've had some wonderful players from here.

"There's no-one quite like Sir Vivian Richards and they've had Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose. It's amazing how these little islands turn out these amazing cricketers."

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