The debate around who should be England’s Test wicketkeeper rather reminds me of the state of politics right now, and the Brexit argument.
Either you are for Jos Buttler and think he is great and everyone who doesn’t is an idiot. Or you like Jonny Bairstow and are all in on him. Or you are a Ben Foakes person and cannot see any other way than picking the best gloveman.
Facts are less relevant in this social media-dominated, reactionary world, but here is a fact: England are lucky to have all three. They are all excellent players with differing strengths and minor weaknesses who would get into many other teams. All three would make the Australia team, I reckon.
But people look at the three of them, know who their favourite is and then refuse to accept the others have any value at all. They refuse to budge and the debate can take an unpleasant, tribal tone that gets personal.
With Bairstow playing for Yorkshire and the ODI team, the debate currently centres around Buttler and Foakes. And the First Test against Pakistan was an absolute classic in this regard.
Buttler supporters will tell you he has played a brilliant innings that won England the game, having played a very fine knock that helped set up a win the Test before.
But the other side will tell you that he missed three chances with the gloves that Foakes would have taken in his sleep and that is the reason England were chasing so much in the first place.
Buttler had a poor Test with the gloves and a very good one with the bat — that innings was one that very few players in the world could play and was based on his experience chasing in white-ball cricket. He still has only one Test hundred, but that 75 was superior to many centuries you will see.
It was his first poor Test as keeper for a while. He said afterwards he has to improve — and he is right. But he is not the awful keeper that many like to make out; he missed a chance in the First Test against West Indies that was his first dropped catch since returning as keeper.
I like Buttler in the role because selecting that job has not purely been about being the best gloveman for near 30 years. If it was, Jack Russell would have played 100 Tests and James Foster certainly would have. Both were wonderful keepers but did not offer the all-round package that Alec Stewart, then Geraint Jones and Matt Prior did.
I think England have fudged the situation with Buttler and Bairstow, who should both be in the team. Bairstow should have been in England’s middle order without the gloves for years, churning out hundreds. I wouldn’t bet against him coming again.
Foakes is a fantastic cricketer, as a keeper and batsman, and clearly is unfortunate. But I think Buttler is a better batsman and a matchwinner.
Buttler sometimes seems as if he lacks confidence. Being a shrewd, empathetic bloke can be a hindrance; he knows better than anyone the catches he has dropped or when he made low scores. Others get bowled and have failed to notice they played down the wrong line and blame an imaginary figure behind the sight screen.
That knock on Saturday showed exactly how Buttler should play, taking calculated risks and always with an eye on the scoreboard. I hope that he uses it to kick on and end the debate for good.