Jos Buttler has backed the ECB’s new 100-ball tournament but concedes that the Indian cricket market “trumps all others put together and then some.”
Despite being one of the world’s most potent limited overs players, England’s wicketkeeper-batsman acknowledges that the Indian Premier League limelight belongs to India’s internationals, despite scoring five successive half-centuries in the 2018 campaign.
“All the Indian players are still the biggest players, the ones who get the most attention,” Buttler told wisden.com. “Them and de Villiers are out there on their own, and if you time it right going through the airport and you’re around some of the Indian players, you can sneak off because they’re the ones the fans want to see.”
The swashbuckling batsman confirms that players can sink or swim in the ramped-up intensity of the IPL, but that many, including himself, can take their game to the next level.
“All the best players in the world are there, jumbled up in different teams, so you’ve got these unbelievable match-ups. If you’re a bowler and you’ve got AB and Kohli batting together, that’s as hard as it gets, especially in India on hard wickets with short boundaries.
“The tournaments are all a bit different but there’s no denying that India’s the biggest market for cricket in the world. No question. It probably trumps all others put together and then some. It’s definitely one of the most exciting places to play.”
Whilst some players opt to become a T20 specialist, Buttler, is thrilled to be playing all forms of the game for his country. He feels that without his barnstorming 2018 IPL campaign he may not have earned a Test recall, proving selectors are able to recognise the transferable skills across formats, though he adds: “If I’d stayed and was playing for Lancashire and scored five hundreds in a row I may have had a chance!”
Buttler admits that The Hundred, the ECB’s new 100-ball baby, has been discussed in the dressing room, describing it as “a bit of a surprise, everyone thought it would be a new T20 competition.”
Having had time to absorb it, Buttler feels there’s method in the madness and that he is “desperate to play in it”. He adds: “I hope it achieves what it has set out to do. Whether it’s five overs, 15 or 20, it’s about bringing new people to the game. Creating an exciting product.
“Participation seems to be the biggest thing about it. Getting kids in, and a family feel to the game. If it delivers on that I don’t think it really matters. People will soon forget it’s 20 balls less if the product on the field is great and the product at the ground is great.
“Fireworks and people dancing, bouncy castles, climbing walls out the back – it has to do all these things and the cricket will be a bi-product on the field.”
Buttler accepts that if the format is to take off, the ECB will need buy-in from England’s foremost players, as well as international stars. “That’s how it’s going to be the best product, and that’s how you’re going to market [it],” he said. “You need your best players.
“It was successful in Australia in the Big Bash without their Test players, but we definitely need to get the best overseas players. It’s set up brilliantly in England for this kind of tournament. Hopefully we can achieve it.”
Read the full Jos Buttler interview in issue 9 of Wisden Cricket Monthly. Buy now.
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