Opinion: It is time to give Jos Buttler a break
- Why it's time for one of England's best batsmen, Jos Buttler, to be taken out of the firing line and be given a break.
International cricketers at the very top level of the sport face an increasingly demanding schedule which requires them to travel across the globe and play the game all year round.
When you're a player like Jos Buttler, who not only plays all forms of international cricket for England, but is also in demand for some of the biggest global franchise competitions in the world, that schedule is even more gruelling. England have seen recently how the effect of playing too much cricket can have a catastrophic effect on a player's career in the form of Jofra Archer who is now set to miss a significant chunk of the cricket calendar after suffering a stress fracture of his elbow.
Buttler appears physically fine - he is one of the fittest players in the England team, but his form suggests that mentally he is finding the challenge of playing all forms of cricket challenging.
This is perhaps evident in the longest form of the game. Initially recalled to the Test match team by Ed Smith in 2018, Buttler thrived as a specialist batsmen, averaging nearly 45 runs an innings. That average though dipped significantly in 2019 to 25, while in five innings in 2020 he averages just 16 and looked completely out of his depth against South Africa.
Now, past form suggests that Buttler has the ability to thrive in Test cricket, so how do England look to get the best out of a man who could win a game on his own in the right kind of form?
An obvious opportunity would have been to rest him from the touring party for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour, when England may decide to go with Ben Foakes behind the stumps, after he thrived on England's last tour to the country.
That opportunity appears to have been missed, which is a mistake. England's key focus over the next couple of years are building for the next Ashes and back-to-back Twenty20 World Cups in Australia and India. If England are to be successful they need players like Buttler fresh and firing on all cylinders. Having him play 2 Test matches in spin friendly conditions will not contribute to England's success in the long term. At time of writing Buttler has played 252 games across all forms of cricket for England, with the potential for many more to come.
However Buttler, and others like him simply must have their schedules managed more responsibly, not just for the good of their own careers, but also for the future success of the team.