Jonny Bairstow closing in on Yorkshire CCC comeback ahead of Ashes

SUGGESTIONS that Jonny Bairstow might play in Yorkshire’s second team game against Leicestershire this week proved, like reports of Mark Twain’s death, to be greatly exaggerated.

Bairstow was not involved in the fixture at Kibworth, confining the match to parochial interest.

However, as he continues his recovery from serious injury, a broken leg and a dislocated ankle sustained in a freak golfing accident, the speculation may only be slightly awry.

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According to Darren Gough, the Yorkshire managing director of cricket, Bairstow is hoping to play in the second team game against Nottinghamshire at Headingley, starting on Tuesday, as he steps up his bid to be fit for the Ashes.

Jonny Bairstow could make his comeback for Yorkshire next week (Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)Jonny Bairstow could make his comeback for Yorkshire next week (Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Jonny Bairstow could make his comeback for Yorkshire next week (Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

“Jonny will potentially play against Notts,” said Gough.

“He wants to play and, as long as everything goes right this week, that’s the plan.

“He’s desperate to get back, obviously, and someone like Jonny… he’s probably not played a second team game for a long time now.

“We’ll see where he goes with it, and hopefully he’ll play a couple of County Championship games for us in May as well, beginning with game four (Glamorgan at Headingley, May 4-7).”

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Bairstow, 33, has been batting in the nets for several weeks and working hard behind the scenes.

England have been monitoring him closely, with the Test summer starting on June 1 against Ireland at Lord’s, followed by the first Test of the Ashes series starting at Edgbaston on June 16.

“He’s been great,” said Gough. “He’s worked really hard, Jonny, worked really hard. He’s been around the lads a lot and been great with them too, so it’s been good for us all to have him around.

“Batting is no problem; he’s been batting in the nets for a few weeks now. It’s all the other stuff, the various movements and things, but he’s doing all the tests he has to do and getting stronger and stronger every week.”

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Bairstow suffered the injury last September, the road to recovery gruelling and long.

An England side without him in it is like an afternoon without sunshine, and Gough paid tribute to his fellow Yorkshireman.

“Jonny is a top player who will definitely be in England’s starting XI if fit,” he said. “He was their best player before he did the injury and, if fit, he’s got to be in.”

As to the hot potato on who should keep wicket, Gough put it diplomatically when he said: “I think Ben Foakes has done really well, and I think Jonny did really well when he kept too.

“It will be fascinating to see what England do with it.

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"The options are to go with Jonny as keeper, or to keep Foakes as keeper and for Jonny to concentrate on his batting, in which case somebody has to go up top. If that was the case, Ben Stokes would be my choice to open.”

Asked whether Bairstow would keep wicket for Yorkshire in the Championship, Gough said: “We haven’t been told anything by the ECB yet. I think they’re just waiting for him to get signed off first.

"If he gets signed off fit, they’ll probably come to us and say, ‘can he keep?’ or ‘can he just field at slip?’ We don’t know yet what they want him to do.”