Jos Buttler wants to be fearless in Ashes: 'I feel like I have nothing to lose'
Preparation is being disrupted by the weather and there are concerns around Covid-19, but the focus is on the Gabba
He's never played a first-class match, let alone a Test, in Australia and the final week of preparation leading into the opening game of the Ashes in Brisbane looks set to be disrupted by the weather, but Jos Buttler is determined to go into the series unburdened by things he can't control.
Buttler is part of the second group of England players who have now joined the full squad following their quarantine after the T20 World Cup but on leaving their Gold Coast camp for Brisbane they encountered torrential rain which wiped out the opening day of their final warm-up match.
With the forecast poor, there is a real chance England may not get any proper middle time in the days ahead. The first intrasquad match last week had just 29 overs on the first day. Australia are in the same position with their three-game likely to be canned - and have also had to deal with the off-field drama around Tim Paine's resignation - although some of their players have been playing in the Sheffield Shield over the last two months.
Buttler did not play England's most recent Test, against India at The Oval, due to paternity leave but had been due to regain his place for the Old Trafford match that was called off due to Covid-19 concerns. Overall it was a disjointed home season with no great Test reward for Buttler, who missed the New Zealand series due to the IPL and then made 72 runs in five innings against India, but he is ready to embrace the challenge in Australia.
"I feel like I have nothing to lose, to be honest," he said. "It's sort of been disjointed, that [year] just gone. Some good form and some bad form and in the year before as well. It's the first time I'm experiencing an Ashes series [in Australia] so I'm fully determined to enjoy all the challenges that throws up. I'm excited to experience it, the good the bad, and I'm sure the highs and lows along the way.
"As a player at the minute I'm trying to bring a fearless approach and to truly try and embrace the opportunity. I know when I get to somewhere near my best that's going to be pretty good."
Buttler has reasonably extensive experience playing in Australia although it has all been in the white-ball formats. He averages 38.71 from 18 ODIs, has played five T20Is and has had Big Bash stints with Melbourne Renegades and most recently Sydney Thunder.
"Familiarity with some conditions is something I can dip into and hopefully not be surprised by," he said. "But I think the challenge always as a player is to adapt to any conditions that are in front of you and adapt quickly. The practice, when you can practice, is incredibly important for that and your first five, 10 balls are vital as a player to understanding the conditions and playing accordingly. But certainly I will try to dip into that experience and I'm in my early 30s now so played quite a bit of cricket and hopefully know what to expect."
As ever in the current world there could be further complications thrown the way of the series. It remains to be seen whether Covid-19 protocols will need to be tightened following the emergence of the Omicron variant - with cases detected in arriving passengers in New South Wales - and the impact any potential changes to international border restrictions could have on families.
Buttler was among the players to raise concerns about families not being able to join the tour but he said it was too early to be worrying about a scenario where they were unable to fly out.
"It's a hypothetical situation at the minute. Until we get told that something's changed there's no decision to make and it just adds to the unknown. So it's things I don't really need to worry about at the moment. If something like that happens I have to get the information and we can work through it and see how that looks."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo