England vice-captain Jos Buttler has emphasised the strength of the off-field support available to players as they tour under Covid-19 restrictions.

England travel to South Africa on Monday for a trip that includes three international T20 matches and three one-day internationals.

It is England’s first tour during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the agreed protocols, all matches will be played in Cape Town or Paarl and players will remain in biosecure bubbles throughout.

England played under coronavirus restrictions at home last summer(livesportcentre.com)
England played under coronavirus restrictions at home last summer (Adrian Dennis/NMC Pool)

Having played under similar conditions at home last summer or in the Indian Premier League, most players know what to expect but Buttler has stressed the importance of seeking advice if anyone has difficulties.

Buttler said: “I think we have got quite used to it. We got used to the bubble in England and a few of us have taken part in the IPL and been accustomed to that. It’ll be much the same.

“South Africa is a great tour and we won’t get to enjoy it as much as we usually would but I think everyone has become accustomed to what it is going to be like.”

Asked what life can be like, Buttler added: “I think for most of the lads an Xbox is quite high on the priority list, Netflix, reading books – and I think, really, if you are feeling under pressure or not feeling yourself, having the confidence to open up and talk about it (is important).

“I think all of us will go through it at different stages, where you feel a bit homesick or a bit claustrophobic, by not being able to get out and about as you might usually want to, so we will just have to make sure we are very aware of that.

Buttler is pleased the tour can go ahead despite off-field turmoil in the South African game(livesportcentre.com)
Buttler is pleased the tour can go ahead despite off-field turmoil in the South African game (Dan Mullan/PA)

“I think one thing the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) is excellent at is looking after the players’ mental wellbeing.”

The tour is also going ahead as planned despite suggestions last week it could be under threat due to boardroom turmoil within the South African cricket administration.

Cricket South Africa has been beset by internal strife in recent weeks but England’s itinerary remains intact.

Buttler said: “Reading in the paper the tour was in doubt, you are wondering if it was going ahead, but (ECB director of cricket) Ashley Giles got in touch with all the players and said he was confident it would go ahead.

“I think everyone is grateful – especially so close to your departure date you are starting to gear up to go. We’re delighted it can go ahead.”


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