Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Jos Buttler says England could play two teams at same time to help solve fixture pile-up caused by coronavirus

England wicketkeeper, who is auctioning off shirt he wore when England won the World Cup to raise money in fight against pandemic, insists all options must be considered

Jos Buttler has said England could play could field two different teams on the same day with the cricket schedule set to be squeezed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Professional cricket has been suspended until at least May 28 casting a shadow over the summer plans, with England set to host West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland.

One answer to the potential fixture pile-up could be for the Test and limited-over teams to play simultaneously.

"If it was logistically possible, you would get the crowds," said Buttler. "People will want to come because they haven't had any sport. It's a really interesting scenario.

"Is it an option? Could you put two games on the same day? Potentially you could, in different areas. It’s right that it is being considered."

There has also been talk of games behind played behind closed doors. "Lots of us haven't watched any sport for a long time and I just feel like people would be ready to watch some," Buttler said.

"It would be nice for people who have been in isolation and lockdown for a long time to see their heroes and role models back on the TV."

Buttler, meanwhile, says that the shirt he wore when England won last year's World Cup final now taken on "extra meaning" as he auctions it off to raise money in the fight against Covid-19.

Wicketkeeper Buttler was the man whose run out of New Zealand Martin Guptill secured the trophy at Lord's and he has revealed that the match jersey would be listed on eBay on behalf of the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

Bids are due to close just before 10.30pm (UAE time) on Tuesday night and the prospect of owning the prized memento has already generated offers of more than £65,000.

That money will effectively enable the purchase of a high-tech life support machine for the heart and lung specialist facility, which is on the frontline of the country's pandemic response.

"I think £65,000 (Dh294,00) is an amazing amount of money and, having spoken to the guys at the hospitals, I know what that can buy them. That's an ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) machine," he said.

"That machine is vital not just for Covid-19 patients but all heart and lung patients. The Royal Brompton is one of only five ECMO centres in the UK so that's going to be a big thing for them. It's a very special shirt to me but I think it takes on extra meaning now."

Buttler hinted that the winning bidder may have to hold their nose when the delivery arrives, having worked and played hard in his kit. "There were 50 overs of fielding and the super over that's the shirt so it smells pretty authentic," he said.

"I probably took it off about 7am the next morning. They were great times ... headed back to the hotel bar with everyone still in full kit. It's seen it all, that shirt."

Buttler followed up his personal donation by joining the rest of his centrally contracted England teammates in stumping up the equivalent of 20 per cent of their ECB salaries for the next three months.

The precise beneficiaries of that sacrifice were unclear at the time but Buttler has revealed the squad are keen for it to help keep afloat recreational cricket, rather than covering expected shortfalls at the professional level.

Joss Buttler with the signed shirt he wore when England beat New Zealand to win the World Cup. eBay
Joss Buttler with the signed shirt he wore when England beat New Zealand to win the World Cup. eBay

"I hope the money can be used in all the areas where it is really needed," he said. "There are so many different areas that are going to be affected – grassroots, youth coaching and disability sports.

"All the areas I think the players would love that money to go towards are those kinds of community things.

"As players we're all very aware of the other affects this is going to have drip feeding down into the game and without grassroots cricket we're nothing really.

"That's the people we're trying to inspire. That's the whole point of something like The Hundred, to inspire a new generation and bring new people into the game.

"So I know the players are very strong on wanting that money to help that grassroots structure and pathway because we need to bring people into the game and make sure that is very strong."

Bids for Jos Buttler's shirt can be made at http://bit.ly/JosShirtAuction

Updated: April 7, 2020 05:13 PM

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