Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler has admitted that something must be done to ensure Test cricket stays relevant in the era of Twenty20 cricket.
With the lucrative deals on offer in domestic Twenty20 competitions across the globe, international players have, at times, opted out of Test series in order to play in such tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL).
Furthermore, with an inflow of young talented players, Buttler is worried that Test cricket will be left behind while Twenty20 cricket continues to thrive.
Buttler used pace bowler Tymal Mills as an example, whereby the 24-year-old was forced to retire from first class cricket due to back problems, but received a bid of USD 1.8 million from the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the IPL auction on Monday. The bid Mills received was the highest for a specialist bowler in IPL history.
“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’.”
Buttler himself has been trying to get back into the Test squad, but with Jonny Bairstow having done extremely well with both the bat and keeping gloves, it has been hard work for the 26-year-old to win back his spot.
Buttler did get an opportunity to play in the Test series against India in November to December, but he failed to make the most of it.
Nonetheless, even though Buttler is now seen as more of a limited overs specialist, he feels that the skills needed to excel in ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals can also be beneficial when it comes to the longest format.
“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.”
With England players having attracted a lot of attention and money at the IPL auction, Buttler believes it is time the country stands up and delivers in global tournaments, starting at the Champions Trophy, which will be held in their backyard in June.
“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.”