Joe Root, England’s Test captain, and Jos Buttler have signed to play for Sydney Thunder in the 2018-19 Big Bash League. Both players will be available for seven games before heading to the West Indies with England in January.
The move is particularly significant for Root, who was overlooked when entering the IPL auction earlier in the year. He has previously spoken about his desire to improve in the shortest format but has had few opportunities to develop his game since taking on the Test captaincy, and was dropped from England’s T20 XI last month.
Root will link up again with Shane Bond, the former New Zealand bowler who is Thunder’s head coach. Bond worked with England’s Test squad as bowling coach during last winter’s Ashes.
“Everyone you speak to that has played in the Big Bash finds it a really interesting tournament and watching it you can see that,” Root said. “You want to be involved in it and I’m really excited to get that opportunity with Sydney Thunder.
“I’ve had some really good experiences with Shane Bond in the past when I’ve worked with him and I’m really looking forward to doing that again.”
Buttler, by contrast, is one of most sought-after players in T20, having enjoyed a stellar 2018 IPL with Rajasthan Royals. He returns to Sydney Thunder after scoring 202 runs in six innings during last year’s BBL.
“I loved my time there, there’s a great atmosphere in the group,” Buttler said. “There’s a lot of young guys but some experience in there as well, including Shane Watson who I really enjoyed getting to know and playing under his captaincy. It’s a great part of the world and a really fun dressing room.”
England’s winter shedule allows centrally contracted players such as Root and Buttler a rare window to play in the BBL. Their tour of Sri Lanka concludes on November 27, and they do not leave for the Caribbean until January 11.