JOE ROOT is confident Jonny Bairstow and Ian Bell will rise to their respective challenges in tomorrow’s third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
England have brought Root’s fellow Yorkshire batsman Bairstow in at the expense of another of their county team-mates, Gary Ballance, after their 405-run defeat at Lord’s - and have pushed Bell up to No 3 again.
They will each be revisiting an experience to which they have been unaccustomed for the past 18 months.
The final Test of England’s whitewash 2013-14 defeat in Sydney was the scene of the last of Bairstow’s 14 caps and the 22nd and most recent occasion on which Bell has batted at No 3.
Root expects both to feel at home again, though, in a series level at 1-1 with three to play.
He has known Bairstow since they began to catch the eye at Headingley a decade ago, and is confident he will be ready for his return to the highest level on the back of his brilliant LV= County Championship form this summer.
“It’s never easy to come into such a big series - but he’s averaging a hundred, with five hundreds under his belt,” Root of his Yorkshire team-mate.
“He’ll be desperate to carry on the great form he’s shown this season so far.
“Jonny will be so excited and he couldn’t be in better form... he’ll be determined to emulate that on the highest stage.”
Bell, meanwhile, must arrest a slump that has seen him make just one 50, two ducks and go for only a single five times in his last 12 Test innings.
Again, Root will be keeping the faith in a batsman with 112 Tests and 22 centuries under his belt.
“Ian’s record is fantastic, and he’s playing at his home ground,” he said.
That reveals another statistic Bell must overcome, however - because no Warwickshire batsman has ever made a Test hundred here.
Root nonetheless added: “Last time the Ashes were in England he was outstanding, and I’m sure he will want to put a marker down and get form that he will stay in for the rest of the season.”
To do so, he must defy an Australian attack who bowled England out twice at Lord’s - second time round for just 103 in 37 overs.
Mitchell Starc took only two of those 20 wickets, but is scenting more.
He said: “I am sure we will be following suit from what Mitch (Johnson) dished up at the end at Lord’s.
“It is great to see a few of the guys jumping about, and we got a few wickets that way.
“We have got extra pace on our side.
“I hope there is a bit of pace in this wicket and it is a bit harder than the other ones we have played on.
“The short stuff will definitely be on the menu.”