England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's May 14, 2012

Bairstow encourages England punt


Jonny Bairstow has impressed for England in the one-day game, possessed with a competitive spirit, a natural power and a sharp eye. With such a combination it is little wonder England are in a rush to discover whether he has the aptitude for Test cricket.

Bairstow, the batsman who has left England eager to find out more about him, now faces the challenge of the Lord's slope, a talented West Indies attack in bowler-friendly conditions and the rhythms of the five-day game.

When he makes his debut in the first Test against West Indies, starting on Thursday, he and his late father David will become the 13th father-son combination to play for England. Perhaps a Test debut will come at the right time for Bairstow. His natural instincts might be checked by the Test environment. He will be expected to learn and adjust. He is the sort of vigorous and exciting batsman who makes selectors want to take a punt.

By contrast, the player he has been preferred to, James Taylor, has been left at Nottinghamshire to refine his approach in less high-profile surroundings. Taylor took a bold decision to make the move to Trent Bridge where bowler-friendly conditions can expose his tendency to play across the line but working out his game in difficult batting conditions and success in Division One is his route to future England honours and everyone expects him to get there.

Bairstow will have to play differently than his other innings at Lord's last August but his previous knock provides a good omen: he made 114 from 136 balls with a West Indian, Corey Colleymore, opening the bowling. That was his first century in one-day cricket.

He has also made five first-class centuries, the latest of which came at Scarborough against Leicestershire. His 182 came in a testing scenario, Yorkshire were 33 for 3 when he arrived at the crease, the type of situation where Bairstow has thrived.

"It's probably inner grit," Bairstow said. "I think it's a good attitude to have, thinking 'right we're up against the wall, I want to dig us out of this situation.' It perhaps comes naturally to me; I haven't necessarily worked on it but I'm pleased to have it."

Another natural talent is his power: the asset immediately evident following his 41 from 21 balls on debut in Cardiff which won England the ODI against India. But Bairstow says there is a time and a place for both power, and touch and control - the latter will be the more important skill on Thursday.

Power and an eye for the ball were the initial factors in digging Yorkshire out of a hole at Scarborough. Only after tea on the first day when the scoreboard was more pleasant for the hosts did he settle and knuckle down towards and beyond his hundred. It took time for him to look like a proper Test player: he does have it but his state of mind is generally to be aggressive.

"The mindset I took to Scarborough, to Northampton, to here at Lord's will be the same. It isn't something you can flick on and flick off. Mindset is something that you can only naturally do. Thursday will be the same as every other day. If the ball's there to be hit, it's there to be hit."

But this week Bairstow is the latest man to take possession of the troublesome No. 6 slot. He will want to ensure his tenure is longer than the more recent occupants - Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan - whose path to Test cricket through prowess in the one-day arena draws parallels.

He will also have a very keen eye to help him in Geoffrey Boycott - a close family friend. Boycott's wife telephoned Bairstow's mother to offer her congratulations. His mother and sister should be at Lord's this week.

"Geoffrey is very much, if you want to speak to him you can do," Bairstow said. "I'm very grateful to have someone like that. I haven't really picked his brains but it's possible I could speak to him about his experience. I'll probably catch up with him at some point."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on May 16, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge on (May 16 2012, 12:06 PM GMT) - looks like you have a new admirer/stalker....

  • Matt on May 16, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    "Jonny Bairstow has impressed for England in the one-day game" - yep an average of 22 is impressive theses days.

  • j on May 16, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    With such a well balanced side, it'll be difficult for anyone new to get into the England team at the moment. Compare that to the Australians, who are so desperate that they'll take club-rate bowlers like Beer, Lyon, Hauritz, Casson (the list is extensive), and elevate them to the test cricket.

  • Samuel on May 16, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Kearon- Hildreth should have been picked when Bell was injured back in 2010, but the selectors went with Morgan on the back of his showings in one day cricket. I remember hearing whispers that Somerset really weren't happy about it - some commentary on a county game on Sky alluded to Brian Rose asking for an explanation from the selectors about it. It really seemed to knock his confidence - he didn't really begin to regain his form until the end of last season. I actually think a good second half of the season could still see him back in the frame - the recent Lions squad showed, with the inclusion of Compton, that the selectors aren't necessarily averse to having another look at a player they had initially moved on from and he's a better player of spin than your average English batsman, something the selectors should be looking for with a tour to India coming up.

  • John on May 16, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    @kearon47 on (May 16 2012, 03:40 AM GMT) Well done for such a humble recation to those comms rather than trying to argue the point. I thought JT had a fairly mediocre lions tour whenever I looked at the scorecards but reckon his time may come. Hildreth had a woeful 2011 , just when he looked on the verge of being shoed in. He scored a ton vs Notts recently but has done nothing else much of note. Compton is the form player but they've opted for a batsman who is not in as good a form but still in very good form but is much younger

  • stephen on May 16, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    @Barrick and @ Stevros3, thanks for your feedback, yeah ok, so he plays in a weaker competition. Being in Australia I don't actually get to see him play, but I watch him closely with the 'Lions' scoreboards and he always seems to be doing well and is captain. Also, I noticed he averages 48 in 'first class' which seems higher than usual? for county cricket. Also, could you maybe tell me how 'J.Hildreth' is performing, he was in the Lions squad there for awhile and seemed to be doing well.

  • John on May 16, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    @jonesy2 on (May 15 2012, 14:29 PM GMT), Ravi Bopara: played 12 Tests and averages 34.56. Shaun Marsh: played 7 Tests and averages 27.36. Say no more.

  • John on May 15, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    @StJohn I'm with you on that selection but I'm more happy with the 6/1/4 in Eng than I was in the UAE as 2 spinners were essential in the SC and I feel more concerned about a paceman breaking down if we have only one other paceman in the attack.At least in Eng we'll have 2 other pacemen.Not sure Broad or Bres are good enough with bat to be an all rounder but at 7 and 8 it looks ok and Bres surprisingly averages 40.Always liked the balance of the Ashes 2005 side and going from 6-9 from that side which would have been Flintoff,G Jones,Giles , Hoggard to the 6-9 in a 5 man bowling attack now Prior, Bres,Broad,Swann - I would say that man for man the batting from 6-9 in your line up is better than the the 6-9 in the Ashes 2005 line up.I wouldn't say there is a right or wrong formation as a whole and it depends on the teams resourses.I personally would love a 5th bowler whether it be Finn,CT, Onions over any 6th batsman but others prefer 5/1/5 and I can't see the selectors ever changing

  • John on May 15, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    @TheHoneymonster on (May 15 2012, 15:04 PM GMT) Could be right but even against India where we did well with the 6/1/4 formation - I think we would have been even better with Finn or Tremlett as a 5th bowler than Ravi or Morgan as a 6th batsmen. They refused to try this out in UAE and SL when we were losing 4 in a row so I can't see us doing it now under any circumstances. I'm quite happy with sticking by a formula which is working but when it wasn't working in UAE the selection policy was way too rigid

  • John on May 15, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael on (May 15 2012, 19:02 PM GMT) A more recent example when Eng played 4 specialist bowlers and one got injured was the 1st test vs SL in SL when Broad was injured and we lost. I'm not necessarily saying go with 5 bowlers now - although that would definitely be my preferred choice - but in (UAE)Pak/SL I felt there were times when an extra bowler would have given us an important breakthrough when wickets dried up at certain points. I'm not going through these points in the matches again as I did it during the tour threads

  • No featured comments at the moment.