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Jos Buttler realistic about player workloads amid England fixture pile-up

New white-ball captain doesn't expect T20 World Cup XI to take field until Australia tour

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Jos Buttler plans on leading by example, much as Eoin Morgan did with his attacking style of batting  •  Getty Images

Jos Buttler plans on leading by example, much as Eoin Morgan did with his attacking style of batting  •  Getty Images

Jos Buttler, England's new white-ball captain, does not expect to have his best team available to him until two weeks before the T20 World Cup due to fixture congestion.
England will play 12 limited-overs internationals - three ODIs and three T20Is against both India and South Africa - in 25 days from July 7, and announced their squads for the India fixtures on Friday. Players involved in the ongoing Test match in Birmingham will be rested for the T20I leg of the series, which starts two days after the scheduled fifth day.
"The way the schedule is, you've got to manage players," Buttler told Sky Sports at Edgbaston, before travelling to Worcester for a rare Lancashire appearance in the T20 Blast tonight. "We have to be very honest about that: with the T20s starting two days after this game here is due to end, it's not possible for guys to play all the cricket.
"What's important for me, looking ahead to that World Cup, is we play three T20s against Australia before that World Cup starts and that would be the time I'd like to go into that series with what I think is going to be our team to start that World Cup."
England tour Pakistan for seven T20Is in September-October but red-ball players are unlikely to be available at the start of the series, with the third Test against South Africa due to finish on September 12. "That maybe clashes a little bit with the Test matches," Buttler said.
"There may be a few games that we have to manage through that period and maybe they don't come to Pakistan or maybe just do a little bit of it. Seven games is a lot, so that gives us a chance to expose players to pressure situations as well. The guys we are talking about who probably won't be available are seasoned pros and quite experienced, so I don't see it being a problem."
Buttler lost his own place in the Test side after this winter's Ashes and played down the prospect of a recall after Kumar Sangakkara, his Rajasthan Royals coach, mooted the possibility of him returning to the side as an opening batter. "I thought someone had written the wrong story, to be honest," he told the BBC's Test Match Special. "I don't think there's much merit in that."
He added to Sky: "I'm really enjoying watching as a fan, at the minute. To be honest, I wasn't worth my place in the side. I got left out on merit. I've got a great challenge with the white-ball team now, becoming captain as well. I'm really excited for that challenge and that's where all my energy is."
Buttler described Ben Stokes, his Test counterpart who last played a T20I in March 2021, as "someone you want in your team… in any format of the game" and added that the door remains open for Joe Root to win a short-form recall. "His opportunities have been really, really limited but he's certainly someone we'll always keep an eye on, because he's a top-class player," Buttler said.
He also played down any concerns about his own workload, insisting that he is "really keen" to continue keeping wicket even while captaining and opening the batting in the T20I side. "Keeping wicket is a nice place to captain from," he said. "I'll be running around, pretty busy, but T20 is a pretty short game."
Buttler was speaking publicly for the first time since his appointment as Eoin Morgan's successor was officially confirmed. He said that he "can't be Morgs - I've got to be myself" but added that he hopes to emulate the manner in which Morgan led from the front by playing in the ultra-attacking style that he encouraged throughout his tenure.
"He asked people to play in a certain way and he would walk out, third ball, running down the wicket, trying to hit it over long-on for six," Buttler said. "As a fellow player, you watch your captain do that and you think 'let's tuck in behind him and follow that lead'."
He suggested that Morgan should remain involved in English cricket in some capacity down the line "because you can't waste great minds like that", and addressed the subject of using data in his captaincy, hinting that he will continue to use the coded-signal system that Nathan Leamon, the team's analyst, has implemented in the last 18 months.
"It'd be naive not to use the data that's there, but the skill of that is how you use it," Buttler said. "It's not as black and white as what the numbers tell you. I'd still quite like to have some cricket intuition. I just see it as an extra piece of information that can be there, and whether you use it or not, is then my call."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98