Yorkshire star makes staunch defence of Test cricket

Jonny Bairstow prizes his Test career above all else '“ because it will always be his most important stage.

England's Jonny Bairstow avoids a delivery from Australia's Mitchell Starc. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

His comments came after England’s leading Test wicket-taker of all-time James Anderson admitted his fears for the future of the format.

Bairstow, England’s one-day international opener and Test wicketkeeper, excels in all versions – as 62 white-ball appearances for his country demonstrate.

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But 50 Test caps stand most proud for the 28-year-old, who sees the obvious threat from Twenty20 franchise competitions to the well-being of cricket’s longest format.

Bairstow has the chance to help make history with a first World Cup victory for England next year – yet success and longevity in Tests remain top of his agenda.

He does not disparage ODI team-mates Adil Rashid and Alex Hales’ decision to relegate Test ambitions by agreeing white-ball-only county contracts. But categorically, Bairstow will not follow suit any time soon.

He regards Test cricket as “absolutely” the “ultimate” - although its future is uncertain, as global crowds prefer shorter fixes and players are tempted by bigger money for shorter working hours.

Bairstow said: “If we’re not careful, there are going to be more and more people (giving up red-ball cricket).

“You’ve got lucrative tournaments... (to) go off for five weeks and earn a heck of a lot of money... (with) the strain and stress on the body of bowling (only) fours overs comparative to 24 in a day in Test cricket.”

Bairstow put himself in the mix for this year’s Indian Premier League auction but did not land a deal. Had he done so, Bairstow would not have missed any England engagements – unlike Hales and Rashid, who cannot press Test claims while playing limited-overs only.

“I won’t be going down that route just yet – we can put that to bed for the next few years at least,” he said. “We need to back individuals’ decisions... you can’t force people into playing things. (But) I want to play all formats for England – I have put a lot of time and effort into white and red-ball cricket over a long period of time to get into the teams and play for England. That’s what I want to do for a long time.”