With England’s run of limited-overs fixtures in India – five Twenty20 games and three one-day internationals – ending on 28 March and the Indian Premier League starting less than a fortnight later and continuing until the end of May, Jos Buttler’s recent trip home, which ruled him out of the last three matches of the recent Test series, could be his last for a while.
There has been some controversy about England resting players from Tests to be fresh for the IPL, a domestic competition in another country. But Buttler has insisted that “at the moment it is impossible to play all games in all formats”.
Buttler could yet end up missing some more Tests should Rajasthan Royals, who have also signed Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, have a good campaign, with the IPL final to be played three days before England’s first match of the domestic summer, against New Zealand at Lord’s.
Chris Silverwood, England’s head coach, has confirmed players will remain in India for as long as their teams require their services.
The upshot is Buttler, and the 11 other English players involved in the white-ball series and the IPL, could arrive for the Twenty20 World Cup in October having played as many as 22 20-over matches in the country this calendar year, experience that is likely to be more useful than another home Test.
“We all know the benefits of the IPL,” Buttler said. “It’s hugely beneficial, not only to the individual but also for us as an England cricket side. Especially with this IPL being played in India where the World T20 will be played.
“The monetary rewards are obvious and the experience you gain. There are so many pluses.
“It’s been obvious from the upturn in results in the white-ball game in England, and the number of players who have been participating in it, just how beneficial it is to all of us. I would say the IPL has had an outstanding effect on English cricket and on the individuals involved in it. Obviously financially, but also the cricket it’s produced and the players we’re producing now.”
Particularly helpful for England’s World Cup preparations is that all five matches in this T20 series, which starts on Friday, will be played in Ahmedabad, scene of England’s poor performances in the last two Tests but also the likely venue of the World Cup final.
“It’s a great benefit,” Buttler said. “Nobody’s played here before, so it’s a big advantage for us to learn about this particular stadium and the conditions. As a white-ball side, the conditions we generally struggle against are when the pitches get slower and the ball takes more spin, and having a different gameplan for that.
“It’s great exposure for us to play against the best teams in the tournament in World Cup conditions.”
Having already played six Tests this year, England have seven more as well as 13 T20s and nine ODIs scheduled before the World Cup, with an Ashes series to follow all that.
“It’s been much talked about, how we can best look after players in what is an incredibly packed schedule,” Buttler said. “I do feel good for the rest. I spent a long time in the bubble over the past year or so. It’s been important to be able to get in and out, to look after people.
“We need to be getting to the Ashes with players in the best shape to go and perform in that series as opposed to being burned out and no longer wanting to be in that environment.
“But hopefully we’re coming towards the end of the pandemic and bubble life as we know it and when we come to the end of the year we’ll be in a different place for everyone in the world.”