YORKSHIRE’S Jonny Bairstow is fit and ready to prove his credentials with England once more but acknowledges he will never be able to rest easy in the Test arena.
The 23-year-old has successfully overcome a wrist injury suffered while on England Twenty20 duty earlier this month and will be in the squad that arrives in India today.
He will, quite rightly, be hopeful of retaining his spot in the side after an impressive return to the highest form of the game against South Africa at Lord’s.
Bairstow, who endured a difficult start to his Test career against the West Indies in May, responded with scores of 95 and 54 when he came in as Kevin Pietersen’s replacement two months ago and unlocked his true batting potential.
But with KP now back in the squad following his much-publicised dispute, Bairstow may be nudged out of Alastair Cook’s side when the four-Test series starts in Ahmedabad on November 15.
If six batsmen are employed in India, however, he could still be in a three-way fight with Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel for the last remaining batting spot.
Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post, he said: “I’ve been pretty pleased with how things have gone.
“Obviously, last summer was a bit up and down with me not doing quite as well the first time I was in the Test side but then, of course, really pleasing coming back and playing like I did second time around.
“I want to take that forward into this next series and then on from there but you can only take one step at a time.
“Going from Twenty20 cricket back to Test cricket is a massive change, too, a transition we all hope we’ll make well.”
Asked if he feels settled now as a Test player, Bairstow responded: “You can never feel settled.
“There are people breathing down your neck left, right and centre and the competition for places, as with any professional sport, is huge.
“We’ll be working hard in the UAE before the Test series starts and then who knows what can go from there?”
Bradford-born Bairstow, who averages 37.40 from his four Tests so far, crucially avoided the need for surgery on torn cartilage in his right wrist.
He insisted: “It’s absolutely fine now.
“I’m really pleased with how the rehab’ has gone and, hopefully, I’ll hit the track running in Dubai at the training camp and then go on to India.
“We are all really looking forward to what is a huge challenge.”
Although England thrashed India 4-0 here last year they have not won on Indian soil since David Gower’s side triumphed 2-1 in 1984-85.
Bairstow, making his first tour as a Test player, conceded: “They’re obviously a very strong side, especially in their own backyard, so it is not going to be an easy task.
“There’s going to be plenty of challenges put forward ahead of us and we’re going out there to try and do as well as we can.
“That’s all we can do and, hopefully, we’ll come out on top.”
Meanwhile, Bairstow had to watch from afar as Yorkshire took part in the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa.
“It was disappointing to miss out but a good opportunity to try and sort my wrist out and that has gone pretty well,” he said.
“The boys did absolute fantastically well out there.
“The effort and focus showed to get through that group stage and into the main competition was outstanding.
“To narrowly lose on Saturday night to Lions was disappointing but it was a very young side we took out there and we’ll have gained so much experience from that.
“I’m sure we’ll take that into next season and not only in the Twenty20 campaign.
“Now we’re back in Division One of the County Championship it’ll be a huge experience and stepping stone for Yorkshire there, too.”