‘We won’t be forced to play’: Jos Buttler reveals England stars WILL be allowed to sit out Test matches this summer if fearful about coronavirus
- Players will be allowed to sit out games if they have concerns over coronavirus
- The ECB are following the line they took before the tour of Bangladesh in 2016
- Players were given the option of pulling out of the trip following a terrorist attack
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
England’s cricketers will be allowed to sit out games this summer if they have concerns over contracting the coronavirus – despite the ECB’s efforts to arrange ‘biosecure’ environments.
The board are taking a position similar to the one they held before the tour of Bangladesh in late 2016, only a few months after 29 people died in a terrorist attack in Dhaka.
Then, players were given the option of pulling out of the trip, with both Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales choosing to stay at home.
Jos Buttler feels nervous about the prospect of returning to training amid the pandemic
Now, the players have been told it will not be held against them if they miss a match or series, though the usual sporting logic will still apply: if your replacement flourishes, there are no guarantees of immediate re-selection.
‘I know that’s been made clear to England players,’ said white-ball vice-captain Jos Buttler. ‘If you feel uncomfortable, you won’t be forced into anything.’
And Buttler said he would understand if West Indies players chose not to take part in the tour of England, tentatively scheduled to comprise three Tests in Southampton and Manchester starting on July 8.
Reports from the Caribbean suggest the West Indies selectors have named a provisional squad of 30 for the trip, which remains subject to approval from the British government. That number may then be whittled down to 25.
‘It would be completely natural to have some apprehension and anxiety about it,’ he said.
‘In similar situations, like going to Bangladesh, you talk it over with your family, you talk as players, and you come to a decision that’s right for you. I’m sure no player would be under pressure to do something they didn’t want to do.’
With the ECB set to outline the precise nature of the players’ return to limited training, Buttler said he felt nervous about the prospect.
Buttler would understand if West Indies players chose not to take part in the tour of England
‘It’s probably natural performance anxiety you haven’t felt for a while,’ he said. ‘For seven weeks, you’ve had freedom from that. It’s a different feeling. How will it look? What will my cricket look like?
‘I’ll just go back to the stuff that has served me well over my career, and build up my practice very slowly. The initial phase will be about finding your rhythm again, finding your movements and trying to get all that muscle memory back.
‘Any time there’s uncertainty, you have natural apprehension and it’ll take me a few days to work out those feelings and the process of how I can control that.
‘It’s important for all the players to have coping strategies for all the different scenarios we’re going to come up against.’
Assuming the ECB get the go-ahead to stage matches, those scenarios will include playing behind closed doors – something the England players regard as a necessary evil.
West Indies’ three-match Test series against Joe Root’s (pictured) side is due to start on July 8
‘It’ll feel quite empty, I’m sure,’ said Buttler. ‘We get so well supported in England: grounds are packed out, and the moment of a wicket is huge. Whether you’re not allowed to high-five each other or celebrate together, it will all be strange.
‘But we all realise that the health of everyone in England is the most important thing at the moment.
‘We’re going through a crisis and some terrible things have been happening for the last few weeks. Everyone understands that sport, in the grand scheme of things, has not been very important for a while.
‘It is paramount that the numbers are coming down before we start to play any cricket. It doesn’t make sense to make importance of things like that when terrible things are happening around us still.’
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