Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Bairstow: I’m in ‘best form’

Jonny Bairstow believes he is in the best form of his career after being handed an England recall ahead of the third Test against Australia at Edgbaston on July 29. Bairstow has been picked in place of dropped county team-mate Gary Ballance after making five hundreds for reigning champions Yorkshire in the County Championship where he averages over 100 so far this season.

England have suffered a series of top-order collapses in recent matches and they could not get themselves out of trouble in the second Test at Lord’s, where Australia won by a crushing 405 runs to level the series at 1-1. Bairstow, the son of late former England wicket-keeper David Bairstow, now has a chance to improve on a modest Test average of 26.95 in 14 matches, the last against Australia in Sydney in 2014 when an England defeat meant they suffered a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

However, he made a match and series-winning 83 not out against New Zealand in a one-day international at Chester-le-Street last month. “I am very pleased to have been called up,” Bairstow, set to bat at number five for England, said after being included in a 13-man Test squad. “Consistency-wise I think I am in my best form and striking the ball well and hopefully this will continue.

“Playing international cricket is a great challenge but that is why we play the game. “If you don’t challenge yourself you will never find anything out about yourself.” Bairstow’s previous stints in international cricket have seen questions raised over his ability to play short-pitched bowling – something he is sure to face from the likes of Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

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