The sight of Jos Buttler leaping up a steep flight of stairs at the Three Ws Oval here for extra fitness work at the end of a gruelling training session in the Barbados heat was somehow indicative of the huge climb ahead of England this year.
Tuesday marks the start of the biggest year of the professional lives of those England cricketers who play in all formats, with the World Cup and Ashes to come this summer after a Caribbean tour that represents the hors d’oeuvre for a true cricketing 2019 feast.
Key to England’s hopes of scaling their twin peaks is Buttler who, after rightly and belatedly being restored to the Test team, has become pretty much their leading batsman across all formats. If he has a golden year then so too in all probability will England.
Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes and Jos Butler take part in net practice at the Three Ws Oval
Buttler will take his place in the first of two two-day practice matches ahead of next week’s first Test against West Indies knowing England have a chance this year to cement their place in cricketing history when the nation’s sporting attention should be all on them.
‘We feel lucky to be around at this time when these type of things are coming around because it is a huge opportunity and we all want to play a part in an exciting time for English cricket,’ said vice-captain Buttler.
‘It’s a huge year but for us it’s a case of focusing on the here and now because we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re aware of how quickly things can change in cricket and you can come unstuck.’
Butler’s success with the bat will be to key to England’s success in all formats this year
Bairstow of England goes through keeping drills during net practice on Monday
England have still been playing football at the start of their training sessions here but Buttler accepted that might have to change because of new team director Ashley Giles’ belief the dangers of injury outweigh the benefits.
‘It’s been a fun part of our warm-ups for a while and I really love football but I understand his point of view because it probably doesn’t make too much sense for us to warm up playing the game,’ added Buttler. ’If that’s his final decision then that’s it. I don’t think the players would be too fussed.’
Foakes of England warms up during net practice at the Three Ws Oval in Barbados
England wicketkeeper Foakes was at full stretch to take this catch during net practice
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