England's white-ball vice-captain Jos Buttler is looking forward to his side's tour of South Africa, though he is wary of the mental strain being placed on players.
Speaking ahead of the squad's departure on Monday, 16 November, Buttler suggested the players had developed a familiarity with the bubble lifestyle, after a shortened home season saw England play 18 international fixtures in the space of 71 days, all inside bio-secure bubbles. Several players then headed to the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE where they were also contained within a bio-secure environment.
"We've got quite used to it," he said. "We got used to the bubble in England and a few of us have taken part in the IPL and been accustomed to that, so it will be much the same I'm sure.
"South Africa's a great tour, we won't get to fully enjoy it as we usually would, but I think everyone's accustomed to what it's going to be like."
MS Dhoni 🤝 Jos Buttler = 14,628 ODI runs 🙌— ICC (@ICC) October 20, 2020
A prized possession from Dhoni's record 200th IPL match for the England wicket-keeper batsman 🤩 pic.twitter.com/dhCJdfQw8k
The familiarity doesn't mean the wicketkeeper-batsman thinks it will be plain sailing, however, and stressed the importance of players speaking up when they are struggling to cope.
He explained: "I think all of us will go through it at different stages where you feel a bit homesick or a bit claustrophobic because of not being able to get out and about as you might usually want to. So we'll just have to make sure we're very aware of that, and I think one thing the ECB is excellent at is looking after the players' mental wellbeing."
According to Buttler, one thing the touring party won't be lacking is motivation to perform, despite the lack of crowds, with all their fixtures set to be played behind closed doors. Asked if this made a difference, he gave a straightforward answer: "I think you're always playing for the pride of yourselves and the pride of your fans. You're always trying to put on a good show for the people watching at home."
The tour is likely to see Buttler come up against several players with whom he butted heads during the recent IPL. Playing against Anrich Nortje's Delhi Capitals, Buttler provided plenty of entertainment by scooping successive balls from the quick to the boundary, the latter one clocked as the fastest ball of the tournament at 156.22 kph. The South African struck back to demolish his stumps soon after and Buttler hinted that the battle is still fresh in his mind coming into this tour.
He added: "The IPL's one of those great things where you get to see guys close up and play with and against them. In international cricket, there are not too many surprises nowadays with the video that's available around the world. But it's obviously great when you've had some contests recently so you're fresh in your mind about certain ways they will attack you, and how you're going to try and counter them."
The first game between the sides is on Friday, 27 November in Cape Town, when they will contest the first of three T20Is.
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