England white-ball captain Jos Buttler has admitted to “frustrations” at players choosing franchise commitments over next month’s white-ball tour of Bangladesh, but insists no one will be ruled out of selection for future squads over their decision.
The T20 and ODI squads for the tour were announced on Thursday morning, with the 50-over matches of particular importance less than nine months out from England’s World Cup defence in India.
However, as well as missing several key players to a scheduling clash with the Test series in New Zealand, Buttler’s side will also be without a number of established internationals, who have opted to make themselves unavailable in order to fulfil more lucrative stints in the Pakistan Super League.
They include T20 World Cup winner Alex Hales, spinner Liam Dawson, who was part of the squad during the 2019 World Cup success, and wicketkeeper Sam Billings, who has represented England in all three formats at some point since the start of last year. Seamer David Willey, who was part of the squad for the ODI series defeat in South Africa over the past week, is also not involved, though he does not currently have a PSL deal.
“It’s quite a unique situation,” Buttler said. “It’s the times we are in, the way the games are scheduled, and 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 differ times of their careers.”
The ECB have discussed individual circumstances with each player and are understanding of the situation, particularly when it comes to players who are not centrally contracted, including the likes of Hales, Dawson and Billings.
The advent of new T20 competitions in South Africa and the UAE this winter has significantly increased the number of English players in white-ball action overseas and the ECB are aware of the need for flexibility regarding selection and availability moving forwards.
“In this day and age, you’ve got to try to work with it as best you can,” Buttler said. “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.”
The chief beneficiary of England’s stretched resources is Somerset’s Tom Abell, who received his first international call-up on Thursday, while teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed is also named in a white-ball squad for the first time.
Following the Bangladesh tour, England do not play another limited-overs game until home ODI series against New Zealand and Ireland in September and Buttler has made clear that domestic and red-ball form will have to be taken into consideration when it comes to World Cup selection.
“Wherever people are playing, we want to pick out best available team, especially for World Cups and big ICC events, so we are open-minded,” he added. “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.”