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August 14, 2012
Jonny Bairstow, who will be charged with the unenviable task of replacing Kevin Pietersen in the series-deciding Test against South Africa at Lord's, is not the sort to buckle under the pressure according to his Yorkshire and England team-mate Tim Bresnan.
Memories of an uncertain Test series against West Indies when he was unsettled by short-pitched bowling from Kemar Roach will be quite enough to cope with as he faces Dale Steyn and Co. and to replace Pietersen, whose absence has attracted such attention, will not make his task any easier.
Bresnan suggested that all the fuss will wash over him. "I don't think he'll care who's been dropped or who he's replaced," he said. "It's a chance for him to impress everyone, a chance for him to play in a Test match and a chance for him to show exactly what he can do and show how talented he is."
Bairstow had suffered a lean run of form for Yorkshire after he was dropped from England's Test side, but an assertive hundred against Australia A at Old Trafford will have restored his self-belief.
"He is unbelievably talented and I think he can get runs at this level if he gets a start," Bresnan said. "All he needs to do is feel a bit of confidence out there and he got that last week against Aussie A. He played really well against a really good attack. He took Mitchell Johnson apart. From what I saw on the highlights he played some unbelievable shots and played the short ball well as well."
Bresnan put Bairstow's problems against West Indies down to uncertainty about whether his normal aggressive style should have been adopted in a Test at Trent Bridge at a time when Roach was producing a hostile spell with the second new ball in testing conditions, albeit that England were 300 for 4 when he came in to bat.
"He just looked in two minds about what to do with it," Bresnan said. "When I've seen him play in county cricket he tends to just smash it in the stand. If that's his way of doing it then that's what he needs to do at this level as well.
"Maybe in his first Test he decided to do something different when he came up against the West Indies which is nothing new there. It's just a bit of inexperience creeping in because you don't want to get caught on the hook in your first Test match. But I think if that's the way he plays it that's the way he should play it this week."
Bresnan was the latest England player to be asked his view about the Pietersen rumpus and his response had something for everyone: the ECB were within their rights to take a stance against Pietersen, but he would also have no issues with him coming back into the side if the issues were resolved.
"I think the ECB and the management have got to take a stance at some point and it doesn't necessarily matter what's going on in the calendar. If they feel the stance is now then the stance is now.
"Personally I've got no problem with Kevin so yeah, if everyone a lot higher up the pecking order than me says it's deemed okay for him to come back and play that's fine by me. It's the same welcome he'll get as Jonny got when he joined the squad yesterday."
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