Jos Buttler admits England’s cricketers are in unfamiliar territory as they weigh up whether to tour Bangladesh this autumn, though director of cricket Andrew Strauss is “very confident” in the security arrangements.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Thursday that the tour, comprising two Tests and three one-day internationals in Dhaka and Chittagong, would proceed as planned despite the heightened threat of terrorism, but individual players will be given the chance to withdraw.
A meeting was held with the ODI squad plus Test captain Alastair Cook prior to that announcement, with ECB security expert Reg Dickason, director of cricket operations John Carr and David Leatherdale of the Professional Cricketers’ Association presenting the findings of their recent fact-finding trip to the country.
Twenty hostages and two police officers were killed during an attack in Dhaka last month and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises Westerners could be at greater risk, but the ECB are content that the necessary safeguards have been put in place.
Strauss hopes for full availability, but players will be given breathing space to consider the report before deciding whether to take part.
Wicketkeeper Buttler faced the media ahead of today’s second one-day international against Pakistan and gave the impression no conclusions had been reached inside the dressing room.
“It was a positive meeting (Thursday night). Lots of information to digest,” he offered.
“As a player you felt there was a great duty of care from the board and a lot has been considered, which was put across to the players.
“It’s a lot to digest, which is tough to do mid-series. There’s no good time for these things to happen, but they have to be discussed and it’s paramount we are as professional as we can be and think about it when we can.
“It’s tricky for us at the moment; we’ve got a game and international cricket needs your full focus to perform well.
“It might be down to the individual, there might be guys who know what they are thinking – I can’t really answer that for you.”
It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for players to be given detailed information on the logistical realities of touring life in potentially dangerous territories.
England were in India when the 2008 Mumbai attacks struck, leaving the country for a holding camp in Abu Dhabi before deciding as a group to return and contest a heavily-guarded Test series. But most of this squad have never experienced this kind of scrutiny before a tour.
“It’s probably new ground for a lot of people,” admitted Buttler.
“There are things that people have probably never even considered before about cricket and things people probably didn’t realise went on for every single tour we go on. They are normally never privy to these conversations behind the scenes.
“Some guys in the meeting – Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook – were part of the team that went back to India so have been in this situation before and probably know how to deal with it. But it’s new ground for people and it’s important we try to deal with it the best we can.”
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, meanwhile, says the country is “behind the times” in 50-over cricket and has put the entire squad “on notice” ahead of today’s match.
Despite ascending to top spot in the ICC Test rankings, Pakistan look distinctly less impressive in the ODI arena, where they sit ninth in the standings.
England proved far too good in the series opener at the Ageas Bowl, cantering to a 44-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Arthur, who took over as Pakistan national coach in May, struggled to put a positive spin on Pakistan’s prospects.
Asked if concerns over a pedestrian batting line-up and defensive mindset were accurate, he said: “Playing the way we played the other night...we’re behind the times.
“That was my first ODI with Pakistan and everything I’ve heard was on view really. I want to see the guys go out and express themselves, play with a bit of freedom.
“England and all the other teams around the world are sort of playing the same way. We want to play with a style that is fairly attractive and doesn’t leave us behind the rest of the world.”