County Ground ace poised to make Red Rose switch
JOS Buttler will almost certainly play his final game for Somerset at Trent Bridge this week – with a move to Lancashire understood to be close to completion.
Lancashire's incumbent wicketkeeper, Gareth Cross, confirmed on Monday that he has been released by the LV= County Championship Division Two winners – paving the way for Buttler's switch to Old Trafford to be completed this week.
It is understood Lancashire wanted to inform Cross of their plans before making any public announcements relating to the arrival of Buttler, who will leave Somerset 14 years after joining the county as a nine-year-old.
Buttler had been keen to continue his association with Somerset – but is acutely aware of the need to keep wicket on a regular basis at county level in order to retain his place as England's number one limited-overs keeper and challenge for a Test spot. At Taunton, his route to the gloves is blocked by Craig Kieswetter.
Somerset director of cricket Dave Nosworthy said he remained unclear about Buttler's future.
Asked if he expected this week's crucial Championship game against Nottinghamshire to be Buttler's last for the club, Nosworthy said: "I don't know if that is the case. But there is little more I can add to what I have said before, which is that we have made Jos a contract offer and are waiting to hear his decision."
Since then, Cross's Lancashire exit has been confirmed, which goes some way to explaining the delay over any announcements from Manchester regarding Buttler's arrival.
Despite rarely wearing the gloves at Taunton, Buttler has recently cemented his place as England's first-choice wicketkeeper in one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals, hitting 65 not out as he produced a match-winning performance against Australia at Cardiff last month.
He is also a much-improved batsman in four-day cricket, and is behind only Alviro Petersen and Nick Compton – of those to have appeared in more than five matches – in Somerset's Championship averages so far this season.
It was revealed on July 17 how Buttler was ready to quit Somerset at the end of the season, having seen his wicketkeeping opportunities limited.
To compound their woe over Buttler's imminent departure, Somerset have been denied the services of Indian spinner Piyush Chawla for tomorrow's key game as they seek to avoid relegation. He has been called up for his country's squad for the Challengers Trophy tournament, which begins today.
Buttler has been included in this winter's England Lions' squad to tour Australia. Seamer Jamie Overton was also named but will spend most of the tour in this country, concentrating on strength and conditioning work.