England middle-order batter Jonny Bairstow has eyes set on a wicketkeeper-batter role at Yorkshire to boost up his chances of playing in this summer’s Ashes series, which will start from June 16.
A freak accident which saw him slipping on a golf course left him with a fibula broken in three places, a dislocation in his ankle and tendon damage. He missed out the rest of 2022, including the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, which his side won.
Not only England won the title, but his replacement, Alex Hales, made a triumphant return to the national side after three years, scoring 212 runs in the tournament.
In Test cricket as well, young England batter Harry Brook claimed his middle-order spot in a terrific fashion, scoring 809 runs, four centuries and three fifties in just ten innings at an average of over 80. Ben Foakes has also shown that he can be trusted as a wicketkeeper in the longer format.
The batter, who had initially played a crucial role in rebuilding of England’s Test squad under new leadership of skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, has watched his England side create history in both red-ball and white-ball formats from the sidelines.
That Bairstow will regain full fitness in time for Ashes cannot be taken for granted.
Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson suggested that the medical opinion was that the batter could get fitness good enough to play some cricket “by middle to May-end”. The England Test summer starts from June 1 with a match against Ireland.Bairstow, who has kept wickets in 49 out of his 89 Tests, last time against India at the Oval in September 2021, has told Yorkshire that he wants to keep wickets. Darren Gough, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said as quoted by ESPNCricinfo: “I think Jonny realises there is competition for places. He had his best year ever for England but you know what it is like, someone comes into the side and it is hard to get back. He probably wants to give himself as many opportunities as he can. He is a top player, he is in a good place mentally with his game. he is worked out where he wants to be and where he wants to go.”
“I think Jonny has said he would like to keep. He obviously sees a place in the England side – he has seen everyone do well and he wants to keep. He has not fit yet; he is working hard and going well. It is a case of him getting fit, which is not easy coming back from that injury. It was horrific. he is got to come back from that injury and show he’s 100% fit, you cannot play someone who is not. The ECB would not clear him if he is not. Whether he plays for in one game, two games or none of the games before England we’ll see where that goes,” added Gough.
Gibson has said that though Bairstow has had a horrific injury, “he is tracking well, running up and down.”
“He can run in straight lines but he’s not doing much lateral stuff yet. I have had a conversation with him and the medical team, who have done a great job, they think by the end of May he should be in a position to play cricket. Everything is moving in the right direction,” added Gibson.
The Yorkshire player who must await his fate is Jonny Tattersall, who has been elevated to captaincy at the season-start as Shan Masood, who was appointed as skipper last year, is busy with his international cricket commitments with Pakistan and the extent of his absence is yet to be determined. He could be losing his keeping gloves and captaincy within a few weeks.
But Tattersall is fine with it as he keeps the club and country goals above his own.
“Obviously I would rather keep the gloves,” he said. “You want to play every game, do not you? But the club’s goals are bigger than my personal goals, so if that means I have to step aside to let Jonny take the gloves, that’s fine. If we are winning games of cricket, to me it does not matter.”I have been used to that before. I was not a keeper until the 2018 season. I took up keeping to try to get into the first team. That worked for me. I understand it is a professional sport and Jonny is an international player; he is that for a reason. If he needs certain things to prepare for England, so be it,” concluded Tattersall.