Jos Buttler, the England ODI vice-captain, hopes the players and management will find the right balance of match time in a year that includes the World Cup and Ashes.
England will co-host the World Cup with Wales in May before welcoming Australia for the Ashes later in the summer. Before that, they have the tour of West Indies, as well as ODIs against Pakistan and Ireland, while some of the big stars will turn out for their IPL teams.
Buttler believes a line needs to be drawn between doing “too much and too little”, so that people aren’t “too tired” ahead of the marquee events.
“We’ve talked about this year being massive for the game. We don’t want people to be too tired but there’s a fine balance between doing too much and too little,” he explained.
“We only have a short career and you want to play as much as you can. There are amazing possibilities around the world but you have to balance your time well and it’s important for myself especially to have time away from the game. So it’s a discussion for everyone, being open and honest and trying to find the best solutions.”
Injuries, of course, can happen close to home. Jonny Bairstow, the England wicket-keeper batsman, recently sustained an injury during a warm-up football match. Ashley Giles, the director of England Cricket, is against playing football for preparation, deeming it to be too risky.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 14, 2019
Buttler was understanding of Giles’ perspective. “It’s been a fun part of our warm-ups for a while and I really love football, but I understand his point of view,” he conceded. “If that’s his final decision then that’s it. I don’t think the players would be too fussed.”
England are seen as favourites for the World Cup, and despite their poor run in the previous Ashes, are being backed to regain the Ashes as well. Buttler, though, was keen to not get too far ahead of themselves.
“It’s a huge year but for us, it’s a case of focusing on the here and now because we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re aware of how quickly things can change in cricket and you can come unstuck,” he said.
“We’re all in a very fortunate position to potentially play a part in a huge period of time for England cricket. They’re all very romantic ideas but the end product comes from hard work in the years before that and from doing some good stuff now. It is a massive year and we have to be fresh and excited going into the big events.”