England touched down in Karachi on Thursday, having last done so in 2005, for a seven-match Twenty20 series that will finally end a long absence caused by historic concerns over security and terrorism in the region.
A planned white-ball trip of both men’s and women’s teams was cancelled last year at short notice, drawing an angry response from Pakistan Cricket Board chair Ramiz Raja, but Buttler struck a note of solidarity and unity during an arrival press conference at the city’s Movenpick Hotel.
As well as welcoming the chance to play in front of some of the world’s most committed fans, who went a decade without any international cricket between 2009 and 2019, he also revealed his squad had contributed to the Disaster Emergencies Committee flood appeal, and was greeted with a round of applause from the assembled media.
More than six million people have been affected by the catastrophic rains, with a million homes destroyed and over 1,000 deaths. The donation is understood to be worth five figures and has been matched by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
“We’re all very excited to be here, we’re very much looking forward to the tour. It’s great to be back as an England cricket team after a long time,” said Buttler.
“Many of our players have played in the PSL and shared their positive experiences from being here. More than anything how much the public love their cricket. The passion Pakistani people have for cricket is fantastic.
“We know the tough times the people of Pakistan are facing at the moment with the floods and we hope us being here can uplift that a little bit and raise spirits by seeing us play cricket. Sport has a great power to unite people and give focus to that.
“As a team we’re making a donation, which will be matched by the ECB, which we hope will do a small part to help the people in need at the moment. We hope us being here will shed light on that as well and that people can see the people who need help. Hopefully some exciting games of cricket will be a small tonic to raise some spirits.”
We know the tough times the people of Pakistan are facing at the moment with the floods and we hope us being here can uplift that a little bit and raise spirits by seeing us play cricket. Sport has a great power to unite people.
Buttler is not currently fit to play, having picked up a calf injury in The Hundred, but has travelled to lead the group and work towards full fitness ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
He hopes to play some part towards the end of the series, perhaps during the final stretch of three games in Lahore, but until then is hoping to help his side in an off-field capacity.
Not all of the World Cup players are involved in the current 19-strong group, notably the rested Ben Stokes and the recovering Chris Jordan and Liam Livingstone, but there remains plenty to play for as England look to rediscover form after a disappointing summer.
“We’re in a bit of a unique situation, with a few guys who are injured but will be fit in time for the World Cup,” he admitted.
“We have a few guys coming back to full fitness too, who we’ll need to manage through this tour, because the main aim is to turn up to Australia fully ready to go. Pakistan are very strong. I’m looking forward to being very battle-hardened for the World Cup after a very tough seven-match series.”
England will have their first net session on Tuesday at the National Stadium, with the first game following 48 hours later.