Jos Buttler has refused to condemn players for opting out of England’s upcoming limited-overs tour of Bangladesh, accepting that the financial clout of franchise cricket has made decisions tougher.
As first reported by Sportsmail, David Willey asked to be excused from the twin one-day and Twenty20 series – spanning a fortnight from March 1 – to spend time with his young family between SA20 commitments and next month’s Indian Premier League.
Alex Hales is also understood to have made himself unavailable both for a 50-over recall here in South Africa and a place on the Bangladesh trip, despite successfully returning from three years in the international wilderness by becoming a Twenty20 world champion last November.
The 34-year-old will honour the lucrative contract he signed with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League instead.
‘It’s quite a unique situation. It’s the times we are in. The way the games are scheduled, I can sort of understand it both ways,’ Buttler said.
Jos Buttler can understand why players have opted out of England’s tour of Bangladesh
‘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 different times of their careers.
‘In this day and age, you’ve got to to try to work with it as best you can and 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.
‘Wherever people are playing, we want to pick our best available team, especially for World Cups and big ICC events, so we are open-minded. 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.’
For players in their 30s, not centrally-contracted and squad members rather than automatic picks, the mushrooming of global T20 tournaments has presented a dilemma – run the drinks for England or make hay when the offers roll in.
Willey is a case in point. With a World Cup just eight months away, his choice might be viewed as something of a gamble but just like the last tournament in 2019, when he missed the cut, he is likely to be on the periphery of selection.
And the differences in remuneration are stark. Those holding incremental contracts like Willey and freelancers like Hales can earn significantly more on the franchise scene than its international equivalent.
For a three-match tour of South Africa, players receive a £15,000 fee (at £5,000 per match) plus appearance fees of £5,000 on top.
Willey has a £200,000 contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore while Hales, who put on hold holiday time with his South African partner last autumn to resume his international career between September and November, is paid £150,000 as a platinum player with Islamabad. Considerably larger sums than they could earn devoting their entire winters to national duty.
David Willey asked to be excused from the one-day and Twenty20 series in Bangladesh
In their absence, England named the core of the South Africa ODI squad for the Bangladesh series, the last overseas before heading to India for their title defence this October, plus some eye-catching new additions.
Teenager Rehan Ahmed was included in white-ball plans for the first time, featuring in the T20 squad in addition to the 15-strong 50-over equivalent. Leicestershire’s leg-spinning all-rounder, 18, claimed seven wickets on his Test debut in Pakistan before Christmas.
England have named two 15-strong groups for three-match series in both 50-over and Twenty20 cricket.
With Ben Duckett, Harry Brook and Olly Stone all unavailable for the one-day section of the tour due to Test duty in New Zealand, Mark Wood and the fit-again Saqib Mahmood return to bolster the pace options while James Vince and the uncapped Somerset captain Tom Abell are included as top-order options.
Mahmood has not played for nine months following a stress fracture to the back but returned to fitness with a pre-Christmas camp in Barbados alongside Jofra Archer – who celebrated his England comeback with career-best figures of six for 40 on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Duckett and Will Jacks will fly from New Zealand to Bangladesh ahead of the first match of the T20 series, England’s first since being crowned world champions in Australia last November.
Alex Hales made himself unavailable for the England matches in South Africa and Bangladesh
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