<
>

Internationals the 'pinnacle', not franchise T20 - Buttler

play
Is Bayliss right about international T20? (0:49)

Mark Butcher discusses whether T20Is have a place on the schedule and Trevor Bayliss' comments about England having a specialist coach (0:49)

International T20 should be the pinnacle of the format, not domestic leagues, according to Jos Buttler who does not endorse the view of England coach Trevor Bayliss that T20Is be restricted to a period around World T20 events. However, he added his voice to the growing calls that something needs to be done about the scheduling to ensure all three formats can co-exist at the top level.

Two of his team-mates, Alex Hales and Adil Rashid, have recently halted their first-class careers to focus on the white ball and Buttler admitted the thought of similar had occasionally crossed his mind. For now he will keep his options open and sees a window to return to Championship cricket for Lancashire at the backend of the 2018 English season.

In so many ways, Buttler is the template of the modern cricketer: forging his name in the white-ball formats, and spending months on the road even though he doesn't feature in the Test team. He has been away since the end of October, starting in the Bangladesh Premier League, into the Big Bash and now England duty. He will have a couple of weeks at home before the IPL which runs until late May. The leagues are all his choice, so there may not be vast sympathy from some, but for in-demand players the schedule is unrelenting.

Bayliss' suggestion, put forward after the T20 tri-series where England failed to impress, was for the shortest format to be largely left to domestic structures but Buttler, who earlier this month told Sky Sports that he could see cricket being a one-format game in 20 years, remains a country over club man.

"I wouldn't be a fan of that. I don't think that's the right way to go," he said. "I think T20 cricket is so strong, then surely the pinnacle - as it would be for guys wanting to play Test match cricket - should be playing for your international side.

"I think for a professional cricketer, in any form of the game, your aspirations are always to represent your country."

Endorsing the international T20 game further, Buttler added that the format deserves more than one-off matches tagged on to the start or end of a tour. The game is heading that way, with the recent tri-series attempting to bring more meaning to the games, while the number of three-match series are increasing.

"Some tours where there have been three and three [T20s and ODIs] have been a really enjoyable split from the players' point of view, it gives both formats relevance and competition. If you're just going to play one T20 thrown on the end, it almost doesn't seem like there's much on it or much point to it."

Buttler said he still valued the five-match ODI series but did agree that something has to give if the game wants to stop players opting out of a format - although he suggested that the one to make way should not always have to be first-class or Test cricket. Earlier this week, Eoin Morgan said the only way Test cricket would survive would be if the money on offer matches that available in T20 leagues around the world.

"There's nothing wrong with people being Test match specialists either," Buttler said. "There is no reason why a young player couldn't say 'I am going focus all my ambitions and efforts to be a Test match cricketer'.

"I think it comes down a little bit to what you're trying to get from the game and how you see yourself fitting into it. It may not be possible to do all three, but there's no reason why people can't specialise in red-ball cricket as well as white-ball."

For those that want to play all three formats, the game is already asking too much. "There aren't many people around the world who are capable of doing it," he said. "In England, we have three or four, but obviously, with all the cricket and scheduling, they don't play every single game of every format, because it's probably not quite possible. It's not an easy thing to do, and that's why the guys who do it are the best players."

On his own Test ambitions, which Buttler has repeatedly said remain intact albeit distant at the moment, he replied "maybe" when asked if not adding to his 18 caps would leave him unfulfilled but has reminded himself of the 18 matches he has played.

"I don't want to have too many regrets. I'm obviously very fortunate to have played Test cricket at all," he said. "I was thinking about it the other day - that one thing you'd want to get out of a Test career would be winning an Ashes series in England.

"Not that I performed very well. But I'm lucky enough to have that, and no one will ever take that away from me. You're always desperate to do as well as you can, and fulfil your promise and potential as much as you can. But I won't lose any sleep over it."