The Ashes 2013-14 November 11, 2013

Prior's calf tear puts Bairstow in line


Jonny Bairstow may be in line for an unexpected turn as England's Ashes wicketkeeper after scans revealed Matt Prior had suffered a left calf tear during the Australia A match in Hobart and is ruled out of the final warm-up match against an Invitational XI in Sydney.

Prior's diagnosis leaves him in genuine doubt for the first Test in Brisbane, heaping pressure on Bairstow to step in for the position after it appeared he had only a reservist's role in the team director Andy Flower's plans for the series. Bairstow made numerous starts in England at No. 6 but was dropped for the final match at the Oval and arrived down under as the back-up gloveman.

Prior, who has not missed a Test for England since 2009, tweeted: "Obviously very disappointed to be missing the game at SCG but doing everything possible to be ready for the 1st Test at the Gabba!"

Ian Bell, his England team-mate, said: "It's not ideal but it gives some good opportunity to Jonny Bairstow as well. We've seen in the past how important it is to get the whole squad playing cricket before the series starts, because you never know with five Test matches, players need cricket under their belt. Matt is a key part of our success over the last few years and obviously we want to get him recovered as quick as possible.

"I would've thought if Matt's fit then he plays. He's been a massive part of our success, he's vice-captain of this team, he's an important bloke in the dressing room the way he talks to the guys, not just the stuff he does on the field.

"There's still a bit of time, Matt's got himself in fantastic condition for this tour and he's been very good with his rehab, so I've got every faith he'll be fully fit for Brisbane, and it gives someone else an opportunity in this game, and it's good for Jonny to get another game in an England shirt."

Bell said the previous series had provided valuable experience for Bairstow and Joe Root, who appears set for a middle-order commission after struggling at times against the new ball in England. The left-hander Michael Carberry looks set to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order.

"I could feel for both Rooty and Jonny as young players," Bell said. "The only way to learn about Ashes cricket is by getting involved. You can get a lot of advice from people beforehand but until you've gone through it the feelings and the pressure it's difficult to learn. Those players will be a lot better players for what they've been through. It's nice Jonny gets an opportunity now that he didn't look like he was going to get on this tour early."

Bell said Kevin Pietersen had recovered well from his cortisone injection to the knee and was in line to play at the SCG from Wednesday.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mikey on November 14, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    England seriously need to consider flying in a proper gloveman, preferably James Foster. I don't think Prior's runs are necessarily going to be the difference between the two sides, and quite honestly Foster, Swann, Broad and Finn all know how to hold a bat, and should probably manage 100 runs per match between them, if not a few more if one of them goes on to a daddy score. @ Chris_P - I've seen a fair bit of Bairstow keeping at Headingley and while he's capable of the odd blinding catch, he is prone to a dropped catch off the spinner or a mis-stumping. Moments like that are more likely going to be the difference.

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Andy Flower is the obvious choice. Jeez.

  • John on November 12, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    @Chris-P - Last sentence re JB was meant to be I don't think Jonny is as bad a choice ....

  • John on November 12, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    @ Chris_P on (November 12, 2013, 12:11 GMT) I'm the same re Aussie selections , I don't follow the domestic scene at all. Re the WK position - you'd probably have to say that Foster and Read are the best glovemen in England (def most experienced) but I don't see Eng picking players of their age as a quick fix. So of the youngsters (and I'll admit I've not seen much of these players as WKs) you have Jos and Foakes (both average significantly less than JB in the CC and Jonny probably has more WKing experience) Then there is Davies and there are mixed views into how he compares with Jonny. So I think Jonny is as bad a choice as some make out. Have you met the Wombats previously?

  • John on November 12, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    @ brusselslion -Hello. So if we look at Jonny and the other candidates mentioned. Jonny has scored another couple of 50s since SA and has not been our worst performing batsman (as in top 6) in the last 2 series. He has a significantly better (batting) test average than Read and Foster and a better first class average by at least 5 than all the candidates. Buttler and Foakes first class average are not too dissimilar to Jonny's test average. As I said ,I've not seen much of his WKing so maybe he is lacking there and you could certainly say Read and Foster are better keepers but if you're going on batting (in tests)

    Jonny averages 30 and has scored 4x50 in 20 inns (HS 95)

    Foster averages 25 in 12 inns (HS 48)

    Read averages 19 in 23 inn inc 1 x50 (HS 55)

    In county cricket Jonny aves 43 comp to Buttler's 31 and Foakes 33

    Foster/Read may be better keepers but if we're judging on batsmanship- while I don't say Jonny is great -he seems to have better stats than the others

  • Ray on November 12, 2013, 15:06 GMT

    @JG2704: As I admitted in my last post, like you I don't see enough of Bairstow to judge his keeping, however, so far as his batting is concerned I think that he is a bad choice because he has done nothing since the Lords Test against SA to suggest otherwise. As you say yourself, he is technically lacking. In fairness to the selectors, they recognised this fact and were obviously about to reinstate Root as #6. Prior's possible absence may have put the block on that move at least temporarily.

    In normal circumstances, Balance, Stokes, Woakes and maybe even the forgotten man, Taylor, might be current alternatives at #6/7. Maybe they might fail but we don't know yet as none have been given a real run at it, unlike Bairstow.

    We have no choice but to go with Bairstow in this series if Prior is unfit. I hope that he produces a MoM performance and I'll happily eat some humble pie. Let's hope that dish is in the Cookbook!!

  • Scott on November 12, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    seems to me that most Australian fans have not seen the performance and results their team have produced over the past few years.

    As for JB, i have been pretty impressed by him - it seems that some have taken a dislike to him as they have their favourite keeper, and no matter how well he has done (and i think, like a few other posters, that when the chips have been down he has produced some good performances), that he isnt worth his place in the side.

    one way or the other it appears we will find out soon enough.

  • Peter on November 12, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    @JG2704. I don't usually comment on touring team's selections or capabilities, I figure their own supporters know more about them. Re: JB, the only thing, as a keeper he would have to deal with is the extra bounce from the spinners. something you develop from experience, so not sure how Yorkshire pitches stack up in that way. Sydney won't be like the Gabba or WACA (If he plays there) so he won't learn a great deal, keeping wise, but if he is an established keeper, then he should be able to adapt soon enough. That is also what the batsmen have to adapt to as well. Am looking forward to the first test, hoping Wombats gets along there to catch up for a drink & share some bragging rights, although he has been quiet to date..

  • John on November 12, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Sponge on (November 12, 2013, 11:39 GMT), there was never a chance of a whitewash regardless. This should be a fairly close series. I'd have given England the edge originally but still wouldn't have been wagering large sums of money on them. With rain and injuries now, I'd say that it's an even bet.

  • W on November 12, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    Australia have not been beaten at the Gabba since 1988 (by an almighty West Indies team). England have only won once at the WACA. Whitewash? What are the odds at the moment with no third seamer putting their hand up and your first pick keep being replace by JB?

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