Matt Prior believes “X-factor cricketer” Jos Buttler is irreplaceable and has urged England to avoid taking risks which could aggravate his injury.
Star batsman Buttler is “responding well to treatment” on a heavily-bruised right hip but remains a doubt for Friday’s World Cup clash with the West Indies.
The wicketkeeper-batsman sustained the problem while batting in Saturday’s 106-run win over Bangladesh and did not re-emerge after the break.
Prior, who performed a similar role for England between 2007 and 2014, has urged caution to prevent Buttler suffering further damage and potentially being ruled out of the latter stages of the tournament.
“He’s probably one of the best that’s ever played one-day cricket. He would be a huge loss,” said Prior at the Chance to Shine schools’ open day, supported by Yorkshire Tea. “It would be like saying to India: ‘Could you replace Virat Kohli?’
“You can’t replace Jos Buttler, but hopefully the injury isn’t too bad and he can recover quickly and go back to smashing the ball all over the place.
“If there is risk that playing the next game might scupper his chances of playing later in the tournament, I wouldn’t take that risk. I think it’s about nullifying the risk of him not being involved in those knockout stages.”
Buttler was left visibly hobbling against Bangladesh after launching one of four sixes during a lively cameo of 64. He has scored 185 runs in 136 balls in his three World Cup knocks so far, including 103 against Pakistan.
South African-born Prior added: “Whenever he walks out to bat you just think, ‘what’s going to happen today?’ How many balls is he going to score a hundred off this game? What ridiculous shot is he going to come out with?
“And he’s just an X-factor cricketer. He’s a phenomenal talent and it’s incredible to have him in an England shirt.”
Jonny Bairstow deputised with the gloves and would happily do so again should 28-year-old Buttler not be passed fit, while James Vince or Moeen Ali would vie for his place in the XI.
The England and Wales Cricket Board offered a cautiously-optimistic update on Buttler’s condition but fell short of confirming his availability for the fourth group game in Southampton.
“Jos sustained heavy bruising on his right hip during the match against Bangladesh in Cardiff. He is responding well to treatment and will be reassessed later this week,” it read.
“We anticipate he will train with the rest of the squad at the Hampshire Bowl on Wednesday ahead of the match against West Indies on Friday.”
Vince would be the closest call for a like-for-like replacement for Buttler given his role as the squad’s spare batsman, but England could also choose to retain their bowling attack en bloc and recall all-rounder Moeen. Should England ultimately err on the side of caution, Moeen and Vince could yet come in together.
Adil Rashid was sole spinner against Bangladesh in a rapid attack headlined by Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, who both hit 95mph, and is happy living life in the slow lane.
“It’s the first time in a long time that we have the bowlers who can bowl 90mph-plus and it’s nice knowing that,” said Rashid.
“The batsmen think, ‘maybe we’ve got to target the spinner here’ so that can work in my favour. They can come hard at the spinner and as a result you get a wicket some days or you get a five-for.
“It’s nice to have that pace, knowing we can rough teams up and then for me to come in. Hopefully someone comes after you and the wickets come for me that way.”
England will renew their battle with Chris Gayle at the Ageas Bowl, the veteran Jamaican who hit a record 39 sixes against them in their recent one-day series in the Caribbean.
Rashid added: “Chris Gayle is in his own league, whatever, but it’s good to have Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order. I think they are the best opening partnership in the world.”
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