Tom Banton may skip Indian Premier League to boost England Test ambitions

Tom Banton says he may skip this year’s Indian Premier League and focus instead on domestic red-ball cricket to boost his hopes of getting in England’s Test side.

Banton has travelled around the world playing white-ball cricket over the last 12 months, featuring for England in their white-ball matches against Ireland, Pakistan and Australia before a two-month IPL stint with Kolkata Knight Riders.

He also travelled to South Africa before Christmas before citing bubble fatigue as the reason for pulling out of a deal to play for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League in Australia.

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He is set to play for Qalandars in the T10 Abu Dhabi League, which starts on Thursday live on Sky Sports, but is mulling over whether to enter next month’s IPL player auction, having only played two matches at last year’s event.

“Growing up as a kid the IPL was a tournament that I absolutely loved watching,” he told PA. “But I feel like I’m at a stage now where I need to be playing cricket instead of sitting on the bench.

“The last year has taught me quite a bit, obviously all these tournaments are great but a lot of them I’ve been sat on the sidelines and not really doing a huge amount. I miss batting and playing cricket if I’m being honest.

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Tom Banton ✅
Chris Jordan ✅

Some serious firepower on show for @QalandarsT10, who trained for the first time this season at #AbuDhabiCricket today 💥👊 pic.twitter.com/6WZiScO72u

“I feel at this point in my career it’s probably best if I play a few red-ball games for Somerset and get back into that because I do miss playing red-ball cricket and my ambition is still to play Test cricket.

“We’ll have to wait and see. I still haven’t decided yet, but I’m just going to speak to a few people and try to decide from there.”

Following his stint in Abu Dhabi, Banton will be in contention to play for England in their limited-overs tour of India.

But he plans to cut down on his travelling this year and says he has enjoyed spending time at home recently.

“It’s definitely been the right thing to to do. Just to be at home with family and loved ones and having a bit of normality again has been really good for me.

“It has been a learning curve for me and made me realise what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I feel I need to be more careful with the things I do because spending time at home is also so important.

“I can’t do every tournament under the sun otherwise I’m never going to be in England, I’m never going to play for Somerset, which I miss doing, and I’m never going to have time away from cricket.

“I can’t play cricket 12 months of the year otherwise I’ll be retired within three years. That doesn’t sound great, but for everyone there has to be time when you have time off and not think about cricket for a few weeks, I guess.”

Banton has been retained by Welsh Fire for the inaugural edition of The Hundred this summer and is in contention for a squad place in the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in October and November in India.

“Obviously I’d like to push for it but I’m not going to think too much about it otherwise you forget where you are at the moment,” Banton added. “There are still nine months to go, so a lot can happen in those months.

“I’d love to go but if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen. I’m just trying to take each day as it comes.”

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