FOUR years after making his maiden first-class hundred at The Ageas Bowl, Jos Buttler is back for the start of his Test career - aiming to become England’s Adam Gilchrist.

The ‘specialist wicketkeeper or wicketkeeper-batsman’ debate has done the rounds on many occasions at the home of Hampshire Cricket in the last 18 months, following the signing of Adam Wheater and his competition with Michael Bates, the purists’ ideal. But for several years now, the ability to average above 40 with the bat has been de rigeur for any aspiring Test gloveman.

Gilchrist raised the bar by averaging 47.6 in 96 Tests for Australia at a staggering strike rate of 81.9 runs per 100 balls.

Matt Prior did a very good job for England, averaging 40.18 in 79 Tests at a strike rate of 61.66.

Now it is Buttler’s turn. It is one he is relishing, after a fine start to the season. During the ODI series against Sri Lanka he hit a sensational 121from 74 balls at Lord’s, albeit in a losing cause, and in his first season at Lancashire he has scored 568 County Championship runs at 40.6. “I realised that to play international cricket I needed to be keeping wicket,” he said. “The batsman-wicketkeeper has to go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one or the other.

“I moved to Lancashire to enhance my ambitions and that’s come to frustration quite quickly. “A plus for me is that others have taken similar routes - Adam Gilchrist changed the game for keepers to start with.

“Being a young batsman-wicketkeeper, he was my hero growing up. If I could emulate him that would be outstanding but he obviously set the benchmark very high.”

Wicketkeeping is not Buttler’s strongest. “I’m still a work in progress,” he admits. “I made the switch from Somerset to Lancashire to keep every game, and my wicketkeeping’s improving at a great rate of knots.

“Not many people are the finished article when they start. At 23 I’ve got time to get to the level Matt [Prior] got to.

”I’m certainly not expecting to be the one person who can fix English cricket!

“But I’m determined to be authentic, be myself and enjoy the occasion and look forward to help England put in a winning performance.”

Buttler hit 144 in only his fourth first-class match against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl in 2010 and then starred on Finals Day with a breathtaking fifty from 21 balls.

One of his main challenges will be finding the right balance between batting for long periods and scoring fast runs.

“I’ll have to be more selective and work out a method but it would be silly of me to go into my shell completely and curb all my natural instincts because that’s what’s got me here,” he said.

“If you look around the world people play in an aggressive manner. People were excited watching Kevin Pietersen bat like that for England and David Warner’s done that role for Australia very successfully.