LONDON - Alastair Cook retained the England captaincy while the selectors brought in uncapped Lancashire wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to a 13-man squad announced Tuesday for the third Test against India at Southampton on Sunday.
After England's 95-run defeat in the second Test at Lord's on Monday, struggling wicketkeeper Matt Prior announced he was taking a break from international cricket in order to regain full fitness, with the Sussex gloveman set to undergo surgery on an Achilles injury. Although uncapped at Test level, the 23-year-old Buttler has long been earmarked for a debut in the five-day game after impressing in the course of 63 limited overs appearances for England. Cook insisted on Monday he had no intention of standing down as captain despite the heavy loss representing England's 10th successive Test without a win -- their worst run in more than 20 years. The left-handed opener has also seen his own form decline, with Cook now having gone 27 innings since scoring the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds. India lead the five-match series 1-0 after the first Test at Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground was drawn.
Their win at Lord's was only India's second Test match victory at the 'home of cricket'. England's seventh defeat in their past nine Tests was especially galling as it took place on a pitch that at the start of the match was a classic English 'green top'. Yet they were outplayed in all departments, the match ending in what former England captain Michael Atherton called "ridiculous" fashion as several batsmen succumbed to a hooking trap baited by India paceman Ishant Sharma, who finished with Test-best figures of seven for 74.
England national selector James Whitaker called for a much-improved team display this weekend before congratulating Buttler on his call-up. "The result of the second Investec Test at Lord's was very disappointing," he said. "One or two of our players had encouraging performances. "However, it is vital the squad learns quickly and arrives in Southampton this week refreshed and ready to perform well in what will no doubt be another tough Test match," he added.
England have largely given the same group of players, including below-par pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, a chance to redeem themselves, with only Prior and specialist spinner Simon Kerrigan -- who didn't play at Lord's -- omitted from the 14-man squad selected for the second Test. Whitaker added: "Congratulations to Jos Buttler, who comes into the squad following some very exciting limited-overs performances for England and a good record with Lancashire this season and fully deserves this opportunity. "Matt Prior has contributed a huge amount to the England side over the years and should be proud of his record throughout his 79 Tests. "He has decided to take time out of the game to work on his fitness, and we will continue to follow his progress over the coming months."
SQUAD: Alastair Cook (capt), Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wkt), Stuart Broad, Liam Plunkett, James Anderson, Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes.