Buttler admits to IPL v ODI dilemma

Jos Buttler played for Mumbai Indians in the 2016 IPL © BCCI

Jos Buttler has admitted that he is facing a clash of priorities in the build-up to England’s Champions Trophy campaign, with the scheduling of a two-match ODI series against Ireland in early May set to clash with the final weeks of his IPL stint with Mumbai Indians.

Buttler, who participated in the full IPL season in 2016, said it was a “tough question” as to which of the two competitions would provide better preparation for the Champions Trophy, which takes place on home soil in June and represents a very good opportunity for England to claim their maiden 50-over title in a global event.

“End of the day, you want to play for England and represent England,” he said. “Obviously, the management will make the call on the players and the availability for the Ireland games. I understand that it is a tricky sort of situation – the IPL is a great experience but playing for England is obviously a fantastic opportunity and a privilege as well. It’s a tough question.”

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The ECB last year relaxed their attitude towards overseas franchise leagues, seeing them as a vital part of their players’ preparations for international white-ball tournaments. With Buttler making his mark at the IPL, and others, such as Adil Rashid starring for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, England’s progression to the final of the World T20 in India last year was early proof that the new approach could bear fruit.

However, with the schedule for England’s home summer focusing on one-day cricket from the outset, instead of the usual early-season Test series, the timing of the Ireland tour threatens to disrupt the availability of England’s IPL hopefuls. Two ODIs are scheduled for Bristol on May 5 and Lord’s on May 7, and the captain, Eoin Morgan, is one such player who is expected to have to make himself available for those matches instead of completing a full IPL stint.

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Buttler, who was retained by Mumbai Indians for the upcoming season, also hoped he would get to see more of his England team-mates participate in the IPL, but said it would be up to the individual players to decide.

“I think it is always going to be a little bit of an individual decision. I can only speak from my own experience; I think the IPL is probably the best cricket experience I’ve ever had. I’ve learnt as much, not just about T20 but about myself, about all forms of cricket, about what it takes to become a top cricketer. It’s only the best experience I’ve had as a cricketer.

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“Whether other people will feel that, I don’t know. I could only have good things to say about it. So hopefully, from my point of view, there are more English guys involved in playing in these conditions, in front of these crowds, under the pressure of being overseas players. It can only stand you in good stead, looking forward to when you play for England, and when you play in different competitions and knockout competitions, I think it is a great experience to be part of.”

Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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