'Future generations will put T20 first' - Buttler
Test cricket is facing "some big challenges" if it is to remain relevant and popular in the era of T20, according to England's Jos Buttler.
While Buttler, one of eight England players due to appear in this year's IPL, believes Test cricket is still perceived as "the ultimate" challenge for current players, he feels that future generations may well prioritise differently. And he has some sympathy for that view as he feels T20 provides a great level of entertainment and an opportunity to earn a level of wealth all but unprecedented by those playing the longest format.
The example of Tymal Mills may be particularly telling. Limited to a career as a T20 specialist by a back condition that would have forced him into premature retirement a decade or so ago, he attracted a bid of USD 1.8 million and has proved the point that there is no need to appear in the longer formats to enjoy a lucrative and glamorous career in the game.
"For my era, the 2005 Ashes was the big thing," Buttler said. "Test cricket has always been held in high regard and I think it's still probably the ultimate to play.
"I had a little taste of that. When Mark Wood bowled Nathan Lyon [to clinch the 2015 Ashes at Trent Bridge]… that feeling, whatever sum of money you went for in a Twenty20 league, you're never going to replicate that.
"But I can understand a 15-year-old putting T20 first. I think we have to be honest and say Test cricket is facing some big challenges.
"Youngsters probably look at Tymal Mills and think 'If I concentrate on T20, it could be a real career'."
While Buttler retains hopes of playing all three formats - he regained a place in the Test team in India - he is sometimes frustrated by the apparent disdain that is applied towards T20 specialists. As far as he is concerned, the skills required are every bit as deserving of praise as those required for success in Test cricket.
"It's not that it gets disrespected exactly, but it is almost seen as not the proper format," he said. "There seems to be a view that if you want to just play Twenty20, you're taking an easy option.
"I don't think you should look at it like that. If you enjoy Twenty20 and you want to play it, that's great. And if guys are determined to become Test cricketers, then so be it as well. I don't think you should be detrimental about people's decisions either way."
Buttler feels that the popularity of England players in the IPL auction may show how far their limited-overs cricket has come in recent times. But he also feels that now is the time for England to stop being seen as "improved" or "promising" and start delivering success in major tournaments.
"The fact that English players are in high demand in an auction like that is fantastic for English cricket," Buttler said. "People have sat up and taken notice of the way we're playing and noticed we have some of the best players in the world. That probably does confirm that cricket has moved and English cricket has moved with it.
"We've talked a lot about having a very talented group but it's about results. Everyone has a few games under their belt and we've been around international cricket a while. We've tasted success, too, which makes a huge difference. It doesn't mean you get complacent but it means you've proved yourself at international level and then you can really go on and look to be consistent. We want to win.
"We don't want to hide behind 'we're trying to play a brand of cricket and results don't matter' because we're looking forward to the Champions Trophy and we really want to win it."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England's tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel