Jos Buttler: It is frustrating when players choose T20 franchises over England
England captain Jos Buttler has expressed "frustration" that the paying power of franchise leagues and a congested schedule has denied him a stronger squad for next month's white-ball tour of Bangladesh.
Buttler is without a raft of players for the tour which sees England play three ODIs then three T20s and is vital preparation for the 50-over World Cup in India later in the year. The ODI leg, which begins on March 1, clashes with the Test tour of New Zealand, while the whole trip clashes with the Pakistan Super League.
After discussion with England, Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Liam Dawson have opted to play in the PSL over representing their country. White-ball regular David Willey will also not travel to Bangladesh, although he does not currently have a PSL deal.
When the Test tour concludes, Will Jacks and Ben Duckett will join the squad in Bangladesh for three T20s but they – like Joe Root, Harry Brook and others – are unavailable for the ODIs. Buttler refused to blame individual players for opting to play franchise cricket, and said those who had withdrawn to play PSL remain in contention for the World Cup.
'Wherever people are playing, we want to pick our best team'
"It's quite a unique situation," he said. "It's the time we are in. The way the games are scheduled, I can sort of understand it both ways. As an England captain, on one side you wish that everyone would see playing for England as the main thing and grab any opportunity available.
"But there are bigger things in play as well and the discrepancy between what people can earn playing for England and not playing for England is quite large, so that's a factor that must be considered and for each individual that will be a different decision made at different times of their careers.
"In this day and age, you've got to try to work with it as best you can and if people make that choice to make themselves unavailable they know they're giving someone else a chance as well. I certainly don't want to be in a position where you rule people out and say they'll never play for England again or anything like that.
"Wherever people are playing, we want to pick our best available team, especially for World Cups and big ICC events, so we are open minded. It's quite complicated, for sure, and of course there are some frustrations at certain points but I completely understand people's positions and it's an individual decision at the end of the day."
The main beneficiary of the widespread unavailability is Somerset captain Tom Abell, who receives a first international call-up and makes both squads, while teenage spin sensation Rehan Ahmed is selected in a white-ball squad for the first time. Abell will captain the Lions' white-ball side in Sri Lanka, and offers Buttler a well-rounded batting option. While, like most elite domestic players, he has barely played 50-over cricket since 2019, he has shown an ability to score quickly at the death in T20 cricket.
Ahmed could yet be a bolter in this year's World Cup, as back-up for Adil Rashid, with whom he will work in Bangladesh. Ahmed, 18, shone on Test debut in Pakistan in December but many believe he is a more developed white-ball player at this stage of his career.
Saqib Mahmood returns to the international fold as he continues his comeback from a back stress fracture. He is joined by Jofra Archer, who took his best international figures in Kimberley last night, and Mark Wood, in a pacy looking attack. Wood has been rested for the tours of South Africa and New Zealand at the start of the year.
Buttler said Bangladesh would help Archer build towards the Ashes.
"He wants to play," he said. "When he's come back and he's fit, and there's cricket available, it doesn't seem to make sense to hold him back. He obviously needs to build his overs, and his resilience, to being able to bowl 10 overs a game and of course for English cricket looking ahead you want to see him playing Test cricket as well where he will be able to bowl spell after spell."
There is no T20 recall for Jason Roy, who scored a century in the first of three ODIs in South Africa having been left out of last year's World Cup squad. Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow remain sidelined by injury.
England squads for Bangladesh tour
Jos Buttler (Lancashire, captain), Tom Abell (Somerset), Rehan Ahmed (Leicestershire), Moeen Ali (Warwickshire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Sam Curran (Surrey), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Phil Salt (Lancashire), Reece Topley (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
Jos Buttler (Lancashire, captain), Tom Abell (Somerset), Rehan Ahmed (Leicestershire), Moeen Ali (Warwickshire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Will Jacks (Surrey), Chris Jordan (Surrey), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Phil Salt (Lancashire), Reece Topley (Surrey), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)