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He made his Test match debut in the first Test of the 1997 Ashes series at Edgbaston. As of the end of the 2004 season, he had played 69 Tests, making eight centuries and averaging over 43. Butcher has captained England once, losing to New Zealand in 1999 when Nasser Hussain was injured. Unusually for such an experienced Test player, Butcher has never appeared in a One Day International.
Butcher enjoyed a good start to his career, hitting two half-centuries in five matches against an excellent Australian side. He then struggled (along with the rest of the England side) against the West Indies that winter. However, in the next series, he played magnificently, scoring two fifties and a century against an excellent South African side. Though he followed that with a marvellous hundred against Australia in the first Ashes Test that winter, he then failed for the rest of that series. A miserable run followed, as he failed to score a half-century in twelve consecutive matches. Despite being appointed stand-in captain for one Test against New Zealand, he was dropped from the side in the winter of 2000.
Butcher's domestic form then suffered a dramatic decline, and he found himself languishing in the Second Eleven at the start of the 2001 domestic season. However, some work with his father, Alan, sorted out his form. He came back into prominence with an excellent innings in the Benson and Hedges Trophy semi-final, and was drafted into the Test side to play the Australians in the first Ashes Test, once again at Edgbaston. Strong showings throughout that series culminated in a mercurial 173 not out at Leeds, as England chased 315 to win successfully.
Since that series, Butcher has not been dropped. A string of consistent performances have made him the linchpin of the England batting line-up, to be relied upon in a crisis. Nowhere was this more apparent than in two series abroad, in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, where he kept his head and batted well, irrespective of the poor showing at the other end.
Whilst he can sometimes play the defensive anchor role, Butcher is equally adept at playing the flair role, with his off-side play especially strong. His contribution to England's recent success cannot be overstated - even though he missed much of the 2004 summer victories, he was always going to be assured a place on the tour to South Africa in the winter of that year.
Butcher attended Trinity School in Croydon.
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