Yorkshire CCC’s Jonny Bairstow too good to be left out by England

MARTYN MOXON believes that Jonny Bairstow is a victim of his own versatility.
Jonny Bairstow is back in England's Test reckoning (Picture: Getty)Jonny Bairstow is back in England's Test reckoning (Picture: Getty)
Jonny Bairstow is back in England's Test reckoning (Picture: Getty)

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club director of cricket feels that Bairstow’s adaptability is both his “strength and his downfall”.

As England head towards Ashes year, one that also includes the T20 World Cup, wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow promises to be a key figure.

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It will be interesting to see how England use him especially in Test cricket, where he has batted in every position from No 3 to No 8 and kept wicket in 48 of his 70 Tests.

“It’s his strength and his downfall, the fact that he is so flexible,” said Moxon. “That’s why he gets kind of shifted around a bit, I think, because he is capable of batting in different positions in all formats, he’s that good.

“So, in a way, it’s a strength but it’s also a negative from his point of view. He’s the one who always seems to be moved around as a consequence, because he is so talented, he is so versatile.”

Bairstow, 31, has been recalled for next month’s Test series in Sri Lanka.

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The Yorkshireman has not played a Test since the Boxing Day game in Cape Town last year, with Jos Buttler preferred as wicketkeeper.

With England currently missing three of their top-six batsmen for various reasons, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes, the Sri Lanka tour dangles to Bairstow the inviting carrot of another possible chance to restate his case.

For Moxon and the player’s numerous admirers, Bairstow has nothing to prove to anybody – although he still finds himself, once again, in the position of having to do exactly that.

“It’s good for him that hopefully he’s now going to get an opportunity to get his name back in the Test frame,” said Moxon.

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“I’m guessing that it’s come on the back of Pope being injured, but I just hope that Jonny gets that opportunity and that he’s not going out there to carry drinks, and that he’ll get a chance and that he’ll take it.

“It’s been mentioned that he might slot in at No 3 in the batting order, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

“All he can do, if he does get an opportunity, at No 3 or wherever, is to get some runs and see where it takes him.”

Bairstow averages a shade under 35 in Test cricket, with six hundreds and a top score of 167 not out.

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It is difficult to see how an England side is made better by his absence in any format, and there remains plenty of time for him to go on and join the select group of players who have played 100 Tests.

“Jonny’s a fit lad so he’s got plenty of cricket left in him,” said Moxon. “He could still have several years at the top in Test cricket.

“He’s got such serious talent that it seems a waste not having him in the Test team, even accounting for natural dips in form, which are part and parcel of professional sport.

“In my view, he’s too good a player not to play more Tests.”

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Bairstow will be joined on tour by his Yorkshire team-mate Dominic Bess, who signed for the club on a four-year contract in September.

Bess, 23, has impressed in his 10 Test appearances to date, both as a competitive off-spin bowler and as a plucky lower-order batsman, and the Sri Lanka series should provide him with helpful conditions and turning surfaces.

“It’s a good opportunity for him as well and hopefully he can take it,” added Moxon.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t feel under too much pressure to bowl the Sri Lankans out, because it’s all about the process and not looking too far ahead.

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“I’m sure that he’ll look at it in that way and not get ahead of himself, and, if the pitches do give him some assistance, then I’m sure he’ll be very successful over there. Dom is still a young cricketer, but he’s shown his capabilities playing for England already and he’s such a highly motivated individual that I’m sure he’s got a lot of success ahead of him playing for Yorkshire and England.”

Bess’s development offsets the ongoing absence from Test cricket of Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid, who is managing a long-term shoulder problem.

Asked whether Rashid’s Test days are over, Moxon concurred with the prevailing view.

“You can never say never, can you, with anything, but it seems now that I think he’s going to concentrate on white-ball cricket.

“He seems quite happy with that, I think.”

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