Strauss evaluation: Jos Buttler says proposed reductions might increase requirements

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Jos Buttler replaced Eoin Morgan as captain of the England white-ball teams

Jos Buttler says a proposed reduction in County Championship and T20 Blast matches could raise standards and benefit England.

The England white-ball captain said the process was not “simple”, but fewer games would allow players to prepare and recover better.

His comments come after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) released its high performance review.

The review suggests red-ball games could be cut from 14 to 10 in a season.

The review, led by Sir Andrew Strauss, also suggests dedicated windows for the One-Day Cup, T20 Blast and the Hundred.

It has been met with criticism from many first-class counties who are concerned about the lack of cricket they would be hosting as a result.

When asked by The Sports Desk podcast if he thought reducing the number of County Championship and domestic T20 matches could help improve the England team, Buttler said: “Yeah, I do.

“I do feel a reduction in games would allow players to prepare properly, recover properly and put a lot more emphasis on those games.

“The pressure on those games would be a lot higher and I think the standard could potentially be higher for that.

“I can see how that would see more high performance, in that sense.”

Buttler accepted that reform will not be an easy process.

“There are some players who may only play one format of the game and they want to play as many games as possible in that format, so I can see how it’s not straightforward,” the 32-year-old continued.

“But if you were just looking at a high performance view on it, I think 10 games would be a good number of fixtures.”

Buttler emphasised the importance of having enough time in between matches to prepare and recover, especially in an era where so much cricket is being played across different formats.

The busy schedule was a factor in Test captain Ben Stokes retiring from one-day internationals earlier this year.

Buttler made 57 Test appearances for England between 2014 and 2022, but he has not played a first-class match for Lancashire since 2018.

“One of the biggest things I found as a challenge in county cricket when I was playing was making sure you had enough days to prepare and go into games feeling like you were completely ready,” he said.

“In my head it makes quite a lot of sense to aid performance if you can practice properly. That’s one area where I’ve felt like a reduction in games may be able to help that.”

‘Fans are desperate to have cricket at their grounds’

ECB chair Richard Thompson told BBC Sport on Tuesday that cricket must “find some compromise” over the plans highlighted in the Strauss review.

“For the counties and county fans, they’re desperate to have as much cricket available at their grounds throughout the summer for their members and their players (as possible),” Buttler said.

“I can understand that going to their county grounds to watch cricket in the summer is a huge part of their lives. So absolutely, they probably don’t want to lose any number of the days that they do that.

“But maybe if they were seeing a better game or better quality, that might be a good pay-off as well.

“I don’t think anyone has the exactly the same goal across the ECB and all of the counties.”

Leicester chief executive Sean Jarvis highlighted the financial implications of the Strauss-led review.

“When you actually analyse the proposals it does threaten the very existence of not just Leicestershire but a few county cricket clubs,” he said.

“We would be faced with a minimum of £250,000 not coming into the club. The idea of a reduction in cricket here at Grace Road goes against what we’ve been asked to do.”

Buttler was part of England’s World Cup-winning side in 2019, taking off the bails to complete a famous victory against New Zealand at Lord’s.

He says he would not want to see 50-over phased out of domestic cricket, saying it is up to the game as a whole to find the right balance between formats.

“I think any time you play in a World Cup, it’s going to feel relevant and people have the carrot of winning a trophy at the end of a tough tournament,” he added.

“Probably the challenge is there’s so much cricket to fit in to a short space of time and you’re forcing people to choose.

“You’re forcing your spectator and the people who watch the game to make a decision as well, so I don’t have any answers.”

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