England news January 5, 2016

Buttler faces Test v IPL dilemma


Jos Buttler crashed a 46-ball hundred for England's ODI team after being dropped from the Test side © Getty Images

Jos Buttler is facing a tricky decision over his future as he decides whether to fight for his Test place or appear in this year's IPL season.

Buttler was dropped from England's Test team during the tour of the UAE, having averaged 13 with the bat in the seven matches in which he played from the start of the Ashes. While he retained a place in the squad for the tour of South Africa, he has had to watch as his replacement, Jonny Bairstow, scored a maiden Test century in Cape Town to cement his role for the rest of the series.

But Buttler's limited-overs form has remained impressive. He smashed the quickest century in England's limited-overs history in November - it took just 46 balls - and it is understood by ESPNcricinfo that Kolkata Knight Riders, the club which Trevor Bayliss coached before joining England, are particularly keen to secure his services this year.

Initially Buttler was keen to return to Lancashire and attempt to win back his England place by performing well in the County Championship. But with Bairstow now assured of a prolonged run in the side and the ECB keen to see their players gain more experience of playing in overseas T20 tournaments such as the IPL or Big Bash, Buttler is rethinking that view.

While it is possible that Buttler and Bairstow could feature in the same Test side - for all his excellence with the bat, Bairstow has yet to totally convince with the gloves and at some stage could be picked as a specialist batsman - it seems unlikely in the short term.

The ECB are happy to leave the decision over whether to appear in the IPL to Buttler. Andrew Strauss, the ECB's director of England cricket, has suggested on several occasions that he believes that England players can benefit from exposure to such events and there are those who believe that Buttler may benefit from pursuing a future as a white-ball specialist.

But Butter, aged 25, retains Test ambitions and is reluctant to be typecast so early in his career. He also knows that, if he misses the first two months of the county season, there is no guarantee that he will displace the highly-rated Alex Davies, aged 21, as the Lancashire keeper.

It leaves Buttler at a crossroads: he can work on his red-ball batting in the relatively unglamorous world of early-season county cricket in the hope it leads to a Test recall, or take the riches on offer in the IPL. It may seem, at first glance, like a simple decision. But Buttler knows that, once he slips out of the Test reckoning, it may prove hard to work his way back. With the ECB increasingly aware of the benefits of players specialising between red- and white-ball cricket, his decision could define the future direction of his career.

The 2016 IPL season starts on April 9, a week after the final of the World Twenty20 in Kolkata, and ends on May 29, with players expected to report - subject to international duty - a week before the start. Players required for Test duty by England will be required to return to the UK by noon on May 6, with most non-Test players required to return by noon on May 17 to ensure their availability in the opening round of T20 Blast matches on May 20. Buttler could well be given special dispensation to remain in India for the entire tournament - as Kolkata Knight Riders are believed to have requested - at the discretion of the ECB.

The ECB, who are currently involved in a budget review which has required several employees to reapply for their jobs, no longer operate a system by which they return to players the portion of their salaries forfeited for their release from county or central contracts - as they did up to the 2015 IPL season. However, it is understood they are considering topping up payments should a low reserve price result in England players making a net loss on their involvement. In previous years, players have priced themselves out of the market by demanding a higher reserve price to ensure they did not lose out financially.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Clad on January 8, 2016, 13:30 GMT

    For those mentioning playing in the IPL as good experience for the WT20, that is a faulty argument. The IPL doesn't start until April, after the WT20 has finished (3rd April)!!

  • John on January 8, 2016, 11:28 GMT

    @GEOFFBOYC ON JANUARY 7, 2016, 11:47 GMT - I think you have to deal with it all year by year. Morgan I believe is centrally contracted despite him being nowhere near the test line up and I guess he never will be again. It seems like Bayliss is a pretty flexible kind of guy and sees the benefits of IPL. Also I'm sure Jos will have talked to the right people re whether IPL impacts on future CC decisions and I don't think it will.

  • John on January 8, 2016, 11:22 GMT

    Jos should go for it IMO and the fact that he now has TB's blessing says it's a no brainer to me. He won't get back into consideration for tests for a while anyway so if he does late 2016/2017 then he has at least had the IPL experience and if he succeeds then he makes a load of cash and improves his white ball game. Obviously there is the issue of his wages but (and I'm not sure how much ECB pays compared to IPL and I guess it depends on what he'd fetch at the IPL and I guess the IPL pay more than ECB to the players who fetch the bigger bids and less to the players who get the small base prices). So I'd say a fair deal would be to match the ECBs wages so if the IPL franchise pays more for his services then ECB get the surplus back in compensation and if less then ECB pay the surplus. He's not going to be playing any test cricket anyway and missing any white ball stuff for Eng gives Eng a chance to look at Billings or the other JB , it's not like he's choosing IPL over Eng

  • Jose on January 8, 2016, 10:41 GMT

    This also means, that Bayliss has firmed up Jonny for Test match duties & Jos, earmarked for for T-20; certainly for at least a year. It seems. And, conveying clear signals to both.

  • Ashwin on January 8, 2016, 7:34 GMT

    @EDWARD JOHN DORRELL WEBB: Because the 'tin-pot Indian thing' is the most succesful T20 league in the world and the best players from each country play in it.It also pays more than the salary of all the county players combined. The decision should be a no-brainer really.

  • Jose on January 8, 2016, 7:15 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on January 6, 2016, 14:29 GMT:

    I think, this IPL gambit is just a part of the preparation for the next World T-20 which will be played there.

    Nothing more than that.

    Bayliss, having coached the Kolkatta franchise, for quite some time, would know a thing or two about the benefits of that experience. That is improving the keeping skills as well as batting skills on those turning pitches.

  • Chris on January 7, 2016, 11:47 GMT

    Forgetting about the purely cricketing aspect, Buttler is in a jam because the ECB clearly want him to play IPL for their longer term purposes. If he chooses otherwise he may have his central contract withdrawn next time around as a penalty, even though ECB would never admit that.

  •   Edward John Dorrell Webb on January 7, 2016, 9:05 GMT

    Why is he even thinking of missing out on the world's premier domestic cricket competition in favour of some tin-pot Indian thing?

  • John on January 6, 2016, 20:37 GMT

    He won't get a shot at the wk slot this coming summer unless Bairstow is injured. His best chance is have a good second half CC season and maybe get in for the tour of Bangladesh n India. He should go to the IPL imo.

  • Des on January 6, 2016, 19:12 GMT

    @Yorkshire pudding spot on. He already excels at the bish bash. Does he want to be part of a game ( Test cricket) which is remembered years later rather than one that even many of its devotees agree is forgotten in days. Although Strauss says one thing, I wouldn't be surprised if they want him to do IPL as preparation for World Cup. I hope he comes back to County Cricket and learns his trade like Jimmy Anderson did in 2005

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