Jos Buttler ‘frustrated’ but understanding as England grapple with scheduling dilemmas

England

Jos Buttler, England’s white-ball captain, has admitted to “frustrations” that his team’s preparation for the defence of their 50-over World Cup title has been hampered by scheduling clashes ahead of this month’s tour of Bangladesh.

However, Buttler insists there will be no consequences for those players who have made themselves unavailable for the tour – among them Alex Hales, Sam Billings and David Willey – given that the opportunities currently presenting themselves on the franchise circuit are too good to turn down for those players who are not centrally contracted to the ECB.

“It’s quite a unique situation,” Buttler said in the wake of England’s 2-1 series loss to South Africa in Kimberley. “It’s the time we are in. The way the games are scheduled, I can sort of understand it both ways. As an England captain, on one side you wish that everyone would see playing for England as the main thing and grab any opportunity available.

“But there are bigger things in play as well. The discrepancy between what people can earn playing for England and not playing for England is quite large, so that’s a factor that must be considered. For each individual that will be a different decision made at different times of their careers.

“In this day and age, you’ve got to try to work with it as best you can and if people make themselves unavailable, they know they’re giving someone else a chance. But I certainly don’t want to be in a position where you rule people out and say they’ll never play for England again, or anything like that.”

The squad for the Bangladesh tour includes two uncapped players in Tom Abell and Rehan Ahmed, with England having already selected 37 players across 33 ODIs since the 2019 World Cup victory – five more than they used in nearly three times as many matches (98) in the previous World Cup cycle from 2015 to 2019.

With the IPL looming in April, plus a five-Test Ashes series in June and July that will be the preoccupation for a number of England’s leading multi-format players – including Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow – England will not be able to field their first-choice World Cup XI until at least the series against Ireland and New Zealand in September.

Buttler, however, remains phlegmatic about the current situation, and confident that the players who have put their names forward for Bangladesh will use the chance to advance their own World Cup claims.

“Wherever people are playing, we want to pick our best available team, especially for World Cups and big ICC events, so we are open minded,” he said. “It’s quite complicated, and there are some frustrations at certain points but I completely understand people’s positions and it’s an individual decision at the end of the day.”

Archer’s return to action has been a gradual process, with an initial outing for England Lions in Abu Dhabi last year followed by a run of five appearances for MI Cape Town in the SA20, prior to his two ODI outings in Bloemfontein and Kimberley.

“He wants to play,” Buttler said. “When he’s come back and he’s fit, and there’s cricket available, it doesn’t seem to make sense to hold him back. He obviously needs to build his overs, and his resilience, to being able to bowl 10 overs a game and of course for English cricket looking ahead you want to see him playing Test cricket as well where he will be able to bowl spell after spell.”

Archer could return to action for Cape Town this week, and is scheduled to play for Mumbai Indians in the IPL from April. Having touched speeds of up to 92mph in his England return last week, he has expressed his desire to be part of England’s Ashes plans come the English season.

“He certainly needs to be playing cricket,” Buttler added. “You are always going to try to look after him and we will be guided by the medical team. But he has been sat on the sidelines for a long time and so if he’s fit and available it makes sense for him to be playing.

“We all know the levels he can perform at, so to see him get back to that kind of level so quickly is incredibly impressive. It’s such a treat as a captain to have him there to throw the ball to.

“He really wants the big moments, it’s something that he always stands up. Jofra wants the ball there and it’s just a great thing as a captain to have someone there like that. The more and more cricket he plays, the better he’s going to get.”

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