Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon believes England should revisit the issue of Jonny Bairstow’s best batting position amid concerns that the Yorkshireman is wasted down the order at No 7.
Bairstow was moved from No 3 for the final Test match against the West Indies after England handed him back the wicketkeeping gloves and dropped Ben Foakes.
Although welcoming that move to return him the gloves, Moxon said that Bairstow’s batting skills are now being squandered.
Moxon told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s a surprise that Jonny has been put down at No 7.
“Someone with his talent and match-winning capabilities – I know that (Jos) Buttler and (Ben) Stokes are obviously good players as well (above him in the batting order).
“But I think it’s unfortunate that Jonny is back down there and, personally, I think he should be batting at No 5 or No 6.
“I’m very pleased, however, that he’s got the gloves back.
“He’s an outstanding ’keeper, and he’s worked really hard on it during the last few years.
“Jonny is just an excellent cricketer full-stop, world-class, and it just seems too low for someone of his ability to be batting down at seven.”
No 7 is the position in which Bairstow has batted most often in Test cricket, and one of his most successful.
In 37 innings from that position he has scored 1,315 runs at an average of 39.84, with three hundreds and seven fifties.
Statistically his most successful position is No 6 from where his average rises to 41.96 with 1,301 runs from 33 innings, including two hundreds and seven fifties.
He has batted six times at No 3 (average 38.83), twice at No 4, (10.50), 28 times at No 5 (29.42) and three times at No 8 (37.33).
After the Test series in the Caribbean England head coach Trevor Bayliss said that the experiment of Bairstow batting at No 3 is now over.
It was hardly a slight on the player’s performance; in three Tests in that position Bairstow scored one hundred and one half-century.
But he wanted the gloves back, which he lost on the pre-Christmas tour to Sri Lanka after suffering a freak injury playing football that kept him out of the first Test in Galle.
Although Bairstow got himself fit for the second game in Kandy he was then left out and only selected for the final Test in Colombo as a specialist No 3 – a position that he had not previously filled and one which England captain Joe Root is loath to take himself, Bairstow responding with a brilliant 110 and a celebration that reflected his personal upheaval.
Speaking in Barbados ahead of the five-match one-day series against the West Indies that starts today, Bairstow admitted that his winter had been “an emotional rollercoaster”.
Reflecting on being left out for the second Test in Sri Lanka he said: “You work hard for years on your ’keeping and batting, and do well, and after one game (you’re not picked).
“I didn’t really know how to take it.
“You could tell from how I celebrated my century in Colombo exactly how much it means to me to play for England. It was a reflection of the battle to get back in the side and the doubts people put in your mind.
“I got my head around batting at No 3.
“I also knew I was second in line (as wicketkeeper) and how quickly things can change.”
Bairstow, 29, admitted that he kept with “a smile on my face” in the final Test against the West Indies, with the gloves now back in his possession after Foakes, too, lost them through injury.
He also insisted that he had quickly identified and ironed out a technical issue that had contributed to him being bowled in 10 of his past 19 Test innings.
“What’s been happening goes back to the Ashes last winter, though I only picked up on it last week,” he said.
“I worked it out in the nets on my own.
“It was simple, really. It’s my head, my weight, they need to be further forward, rather than me being sat back.”
Bairstow felt that he was staying too deep in the crease after facing some high-class pace bowling at home and abroad.
“Things had crept into my game,” he said.
“I was seeing what I thought were ‘four’ balls only they were shorter (due to his position in the crease).”
How much Yorkshire will see of Bairstow this summer remains to be seen.
He will miss the start of the season due to his involvement in the Indian Premier League, after which he will be heavily involved in the World Cup and Ashes.
Moxon believes that Bairstow will light up the IPL after signing for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He added that he does not yet know when Yorkshire’s England contingent will be available to the club.
“We’ve had no contact yet from England about what their schedule will be once they come back from the West Indies, whether that be Jonny, Joe (Root) or Adil (Rashid),” said Moxon.
“Whether they’ll play any 50-over matches (for Yorkshire) we’ll have to wait and see. Jonny is going off to the IPL, so it’s all a bit unknown at this moment.”
One-day series build-up: Page 23