England are 'not going back to cricket as we know it', says Jos Buttler

The Guardian-8 months before

England are expected to resume training in pairs or with designated coaches by the end of next week, with hopes building that a three-Test series against West Indies will be playable behind closed doors in July. Buttler is happy to pick up a bat again but expects a mixture of emotions as he and his teammates enter the unknown.

“I actually had some natural apprehension and anxiety,” Buttler said of the moment he read a return could be imminent. “The...e’s natural performance anxiety that you haven’t felt for seven weeks, you’ve had some freedom from that. Lots of different feelings: how will it look and what will my cricket look like? Because we’re not going back to cricket as we know it, and it’s all very new, it’s very much step by step at the moment. People can only give you week-by-week assurances so that makes it very difficult to plan.

“You have natural apprehension and I think it’ll take me a few days to work out those feelings and work out the process of how I can control that. If we progress to playing cricket behind closed doors it’ll be important to have coping strategies for the different scenarios we’re going to come up against.”

Asked whether there were any red lines he would not cross in the event cricket restarted, Buttler said: “Over the next few days I’ll probably come up with: ‘What does it look like for me? Is there anything where I would say X, Y or Z would mean I don’t feel comfortable playing and trying to perform to my best? Is it the right thing to do?’”

He emphasised that players do not feel pushed into restarting and that, similarly to when England toured Bangladesh in 2016 amid significant safety concerns, all individual stances would be respected. “It’s been made clear that the safety of the players is going to be paramount to any cricket being played, and if you don’t feel comfortable that is your own decision. Similarly to when you’re injured, if someone comes in and performs fantastically well it is going to affect you, but it’s fair to say if someone had reservations about playing then in these times it wouldn’t be held against you.”

Footballers such as Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose have expressed doubts about their sport resuming. Buttler pointed out cricket is easier to play while physically distanced, but he accepted there will be worries about how a number of basic actions can be performed. “There’s lots of questions. [Such as] everyone having to touch the ball, and shining the ball, which is one of the biggest bits of cricket at times. Especially in England, you want it to swing.”

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