England's Buttler hopes enforced virus break prolongs cricket career
England's Jos Buttler believes his unexpected break from the cricket treadmill could have a positive effect in extending his career "by a few years".
With England playing home matches in the northern hemisphere summer and touring every winter, multi-format players such as Buttler usually face a gruelling schedule of international matches. The coronavirus outbreak, however, has brought that routine to a shuddering halt, with the start of the English season delayed until July 1 at the earliest.
Nevertheless, Buttler said some good may come from his enforced break, citing the example of All Black rugby greats such as Dan Carter, whose international careers benefited from planned sabbaticals.
"I think maybe in years to come you'll potentially look back on it as a big benefit," World-Cup winner Buttler said during a conference call on Wednesday. "It's obviously been a very strange time for everyone, very tough on a lot of families and a lot of people across the world so it's tough to say it's been enjoyable. But in years to come I think you'll look back and this is a time you'll never get again in your cricket career, because hopefully we'll never experience anything like this again."
The 29-year-old Lancashire wicketkeeper-batsman added: "To have a complete break both physically and mentally could potentially add a few years to the career and you'll hopefully see some benefits from the break. "I know rugby is a very physical game but if you look at some New Zealand players who have taken a sabbatical for a period of time, it could potentially have a positive effect on us as England players."
England still hope to complete a full home international programme of six Tests, split evenly between the West Indies and Pakistan, as well as limited-overs matches against Pakistan, Australia and Ireland despite the shortened season.
This week has seen the British government start to relax lockdown restrictions on recreational sport, with some golf and tennis now allowed so long as social-distancing rules are maintained. Guidance on how elite sportsmen might return to training is expected in the coming days, with Buttler saying he felt a degree of apprehension.
"It looks like in the next week or so , or however imminent it will be, that we'll have the chance to train individually," he said. "It's everything -- a bit of nerves, a bit of excitement, a little bit of apprehension –- but it's a positive step for cricket in England that the players can start training individually. As a player you feel like you've had a nice rest and really enjoyed it, it's been good to have the break and hopefully feeling refreshed for some cricket."