COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - MARCH 11: Jos Buttler of England during a nets session at the P Sara Oval on March 11, 2020 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

THE Indian Premier League (IPL) is the best in the world after the ICC World Cups, believes Jos Buttler, noting that the “fantasy cricket” tournament helped English cricket grow.

The World Cup-winning England wicketkeeper-batsman said he had been desperate to be a part of this year’s IPL, which was indefinitely suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buttler has been a part of two franchises in the IPL. After playing for Mumbai Indians in the 2016-17 season, Buttler moved to Rajasthan Royals in 2018.

“There’s no doubt that it (IPL) has helped English cricket grow and the numbers of players who were involved in the last few years,” Buttler said in the BBC Podcast The Doosra.

“It was something I was desperate to play. For me it’s the best tournament in the world, taking out the World Cups.”

Buttler, who made massive strides as a white-ball player after a few seasons of IPL, said he was amazed at concept of having the top stars of the game rubbing shoulders together.

“Some of the match ups you get to see in the IPL are great,” he said.

“Bangalore has been amongst the top three teams with (Virat)) Kohli, AB (de Villiers) and (Chris) Gayle coming up and then to see them up against  a (Jasprit) Bumrah or a Dale Steyn or (Lasith) Malinga.

“As a kid growing up that is what you want to play — fantasy cricket. Mix all the teams together what it will be like if Kohli and de Villiers play together.”

Buttler credited former England skipper Kevin Pietersen, who advocated for the creation of a separate window for the IPL, enabling English players to be a part of the cash-rich tournament.

“English cricket has got quite an interesting history with the IPL. The documentary about Kevin Pietersen and how he wanted to get involved and the road blocks he faced,” he said.

“He really paved the way for a lot of us to go and now play in the IPL with more blessing from English cricket. He is a pioneer in building the steps in place to realise just how important the IPL is for developing cricketers.”

The 13th IPL, which was scheduled to start in March end, was indefinitely suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has also put in doubt this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

There is speculation that IPL might be conducted in October-November if the T20 World Cup in Australia is postponed.