England in West Indies 2016-17 February 23, 2017

'Future generations will put T20 first' - Buttler

Jos Buttler believes Tymal Mills' IPL contract could inspire more kids to concentrate on T20 © AFP

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • exhil on February 24, 2017, 20:56 GMT

    This is the bad situation IPL has brought to cricket. Mills who plays only a few overs for whatever reason attracts so much money so future players will be pulled that way. Some WI players are already in that pot. Business ruins the game.ICC has a lot to save the game because on one will be interested to play the stressful Test cricket with more hard work for much less pay.Test cricket will die a natural game because only the few rich countries will be playing it in future.

  • John on February 24, 2017, 19:23 GMT

    cricfan44810102, I hope you are right that Kohli will be judged on his test match average, but somehow I doubt it. A century ago Englishmen were judged on Gentlemen vs Players and Oxford vs Cambridge. Test averages meant nothing as they included tests against South Africa played by teams of people who happened to make themselves available (and some tests were not even considered tests at the time they were played). Later, we decided that test match statistics were sacrosanct and that idea has lasted a while, but the tide is turning again whether we like it or not. I fear that test match averages may end up being just a footnote in a cricket annual.

  • David on February 24, 2017, 16:50 GMT

    True to some extent. T20 is going to be an important part of the game's future. But I don't think it will ever supplant test cricket - the best players will still want to test themselves in the longest form of the game, even if some of them will gain initial international recognition through T20 rather than the first class game (such as David Warner). There may be less tests in the future, but there again we've never had an era with so many tests being played as now. Frequency of tests may diminish to what they were 30 years ago or even 100, but they will survive.

  • VENKATACHALAM on February 24, 2017, 12:27 GMT

    Butler is right to an extent. Specialist T20 players shouldn't be disrespected for choosing that format. But if the ICC and other national boards put money where their mouth is, then Test specialists too should be remunerated equally to a successful IPL star. Then there will be no need to worry about the future of Tests.

  • Lee on February 24, 2017, 4:38 GMT

    Some players are more suitable for test cricket while others more suitable for the shorter format stuff...the quicker they can work out the discipline for them the better. Buttlers limited over form suffers when he tries to be a test cricketer and for me he should focus more at what he is good at...hes one of the best out there after all...it'll be better for him and England in the long run. Very few have the talent and temperament to play both. Root, Stokes, Ali, Woakes should be the only players in all England squads, the rest need to focus on where they are best and young talent need to make a call now and start specialising

  • Steve on February 23, 2017, 23:53 GMT

    'Future generations will put T20 first'. I have to agree, though reluctantly, because that's where the game is headed, like it or not. I can foresee a bilateral series consisting of just 3 or 5 T20s within the next 5 years, if not sooner. I am all for it.

  • geoffs8103821 on February 23, 2017, 23:09 GMT

    All this hype around T20 cricket will slow down let's not forget or be in Any doubt that test cricket is no 1 with the players ex players and most cricket fans. Kholi knows he will be judged on his average in tests not how many sixes he scores. Pietersen also knew he could have had the England test record and it burns him Bradman average 99 no other form of cricket can get close. But people are missing the point you can enjoy both.

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