Tom Banton enjoying break from Covid bubbles as he weighs up IPL entry

David Charlesworth, PA

Tom Banton has cherished the dose of normality he has had since withdrawing from the Big Bash League as the England batsman revealed his wish to play more might lead to him forgoing this year’s Indian Premier League.

Banton has accumulated a lot of time in some form of controlled environment in recent months, with England in their white-ball matches against Ireland, Pakistan and Australia before a two-month IPL stint with Kolkata Knight Riders.

He travelled to South Africa before Christmas as a reserve, necessitating another few weeks away from home, but he cited bubble fatigue as the reason for pulling out of a deal to represent Brisbane Heat in the BBL in Australia.

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

“It’s 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.”

The time off has allowed Banton, one of the country’s brightest batting prospects, to reflect, clear his mind and map out what he wants to achieve for what is shaping up to be another busy few months.

Tom Banton is regarded as one of England's brightest batting prospects (Jon Super/PA)
Tom Banton is regarded as one of England’s brightest batting prospects (Jon Super/PA)

Another couple of franchise competitions and selection for the limited-overs part of England’s tour to India loom, but Banton suggested he may skip the IPL, having played just two matches for Kolkata at last year’s event.

He has subsequently been released by the Knight Riders and is mulling over whether to enter next month’s player auction. While he has enjoyed being a part of the competition, he wants more than a bit-part role.

The 22-year-old’s ambition to establish himself as an all-format batsman for England may instead lead him to play for Somerset in the LV= Insurance County Championship in a bid to burnish his Test credentials.

“Growing up as a kid the IPL was a tournament that I absolutely loved watching,” he said. “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.

“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.”

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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