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Jos Buttler doubtful starter for Hamilton Test; Ollie Pope to don keeping gloves

Kent's Zak Crawley is Buttler's likely replacement in the England lineup.

Jos Buttler
England batsman Jos Buttler. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Jos Buttler, the England wicket-keeper, has become uncertain to play the second Test versus New Zealand, scheduled to get underway on Friday, November 29 at the Seddon Park in Hamilton. During a training session, he tweaked a back muscle and it has created more headaches for the Three Lions’ team management. The Brits are already 0-1 down in the two-match series.

However, the hosts don’t seem to have panicked. Joe Root, the England Test skipper, has mentioned that Ollie Pope will keep wickets in case Buttler doesn’t make the cut in time. Pope played the first Test at the Bay Oval in Mount Manganui, but as a specialist batsman where he managed scores of 29 and 6.

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The Brits are now waiting to see the progress Buttler makes head of the next game. “Jos has tweaked his back in the gym. We’ll have to find out a little bit more information on that throughout today and see where he’s at,” Root was quoted as saying in ESPNcricinfo.

Joe Root confident about Ollie Pope

Pope doesn’t have a whole lot of experience as he has kept in only five first-class matches. Pope is likely to bat at number 7 if Buttler doesn’t play. Rory Burns also has kept wickets, but not after 2014. Despite Pope’s inexperience, Root sounded confident about his prowess behind the wickets.

“We knew that this was a possibility when we selected the squad. I’m quite happy that Popey’s got the capability of doing a good job for us,” he added. The decision to give the keeping gloves to Pope has meant that England have dismissed the idea of calling in a last-minute replacement.

As far as replacement in the eleven is concerned, Zak Crawley, Kent’s top-order batsman, should get a go. The 21-year-old averages a mere 31.27 in first-class cricket, having scored 1908 runs in 36 matches. However, of late, he has looked in pretty good rhythm with the bat in hand.

Prior to the Tests, England played a warm-up match against New Zealand XI in Whangarei. There he scored 103 off 137 with the help of 13 fours. If he plays, then he may bat in the middle-order since England may not wish to tinker with their new opening combo of Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley.

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