Jonny Bairstow, ignored by England since his bit part in the Ashes whitewash in Australia 18 months ago, a token jaunt to Ireland apart, has refused to be downcast at the implication that the series had done considerable damage to his international career.
His own coach at Yorkshire, Jason Gillespie, had sympathetically observed that since that fateful series Bairstow, one of the form batsmen in the country, had been "a victim of circumstance". Even that suggestion made him recoil. He might have been preparing for an Under-13s coaching session at Whixley CCC, a village ground between York and Harrogate, to promote the ECB's small grants scheme, but when it came to his own cricket he was prepared to grant nothing.
"I think the way that England are playing their cricket suits my game, whether that be in Test cricket, one-day cricket or Twenty20 cricket," he asserted. "In the future I think I definitely have a role to play, whether it be next week, next month or whenever."
It turned out to be even sooner than that: this week, in fact. A fielding session mishap for Jos Buttler, who split the webbing of his left hand, and Bairstow's Range Rover was heading north to Chester-le-Street for the final Royal London ODI, a ginger haired wicketkeeper-batsman of some conviction at the wheel.
That he would play against New Zealand was not guaranteed, but to call him up rather than just throw the gloves at Sam Billings, who has kept regularly for Kent and who has played as a batsman at No. 7 throughout the series, was surely an indication that he might. It would be pretty galling for Bairstow if England were just anxious to use his 12th man services again.
Whixley is a relaxing spot. Where there was once an old wooden pavilion and a field of dancing corn, there is now a more spacious pavilion, a larger outfield and more space all round after the purchase of a farmer's field. The square has always been good: it helps when your groundsman is a front-foot driver of advancing years. And Bairstow grew up aroiund here, having his first taste of junior cricket three miles down the road at Great Ouseburn.
Relaxing or not, Bairstow looked aghast at suggestions that his presence on the last Australia tour did him a disservice. He played in two Tests, scoring 49 runs in four knocks and keeping a little scruffily. He took a battering on social media - with the Ashes lost by then, he was not the only one - and fun was poked by some at his habit of running after the ball if he happened to miss it. It must be in the genes because his father, David "Bluey" Bairstow, used to do that for Yorkshire, too, but then it was regarded as an endearing proof of his abundant competitive spirit. Different times.
"I was only in for two games," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it was a fantastic experience to walk out in front of more than 90,000 people in a Boxing Day Test at the MCG. The experience that has given me, if I get the chance to walk out there again next time - yes, you might have some negative memories but you do have experience of what it is going to be at its toughest.
"I don't think you can look at it as a negative. The pressure and the circumstances weren't ideal - I hadn't played cricket before that fourth Test for a couple of months, but being out there is invaluable."
"I'm without doubt capable of doing a very, very, very good job for England"
At the end of that winter, England's report was not a favourable one. From Australia, he joined the Lions in Sri Lanka and, after a prolonged and largely inactive time away from home, struggled to attune himself to a developmental tour.
"I went to Sri Lanka straight afterwards and if I'm quite honest I perhaps wasn't right; that wasn't the right trip for me to necessarily go on," he conceded. "But it was a learning experience again to have to come away from a whitewash and crack on. If you look at how I've played since then not only for Yorkshire but when I've played for the Lions, I think I have done that."
When "Bluey" was vehement about his good form, he could list his scores off pat. Jonny has the same ability, presenting his scores as evidence of his wellbeing, although falling short of thumping the table in emphasis. He began with the tri-series against New Zealand and Sri Lanka last year, a sequence led by a hundred at Bristol that at least one judge termed as "world class".
"In that tri-series … 50, 123 and 75 … then going away this winter with the Lions, then being picked to play against England in the Caribbean and scoring 98, then coming back in the summer and starting the way that I have done, I think that my game is in a pretty good place at the moment.
"The form I am in this season will be doing my claims no harm. I'm just looking at keeping my form going. There are eight places up for grabs as a batsman and one place up for grabs as a wicketkeeper. I am very fortunate to have two strings to my bow."
Do not enquire if he remains as committed to his keeping as ever. It is liable to make him grisly. His suspicion comes with good reason because some misrepresent him on the scantest of evidence when they have not watched him for years. Buttler's keeping errors are politely overlooked, like thumb prints on a clean wine glass; Bairstow's errors, far fewer now, stick to him like tea stains on a mug. "Satisfied - solid - consistent," is how he assesses his keeping, each word hammered out as if he was having a batting drill.
He has had a brilliant June in the Championship. Against Hampshire, he excelled with a deadly, counterpunching hundred, and it is worth checking the highlights (at the last count witnessed by only 1233 people - or Bairstow 1233 times) to recognise the form he is in.
Another hundred against Middlesex on a difficult Headingley surface came when the next best score was 20 and led Gillespie to press England to take notice. It is half a century since so many Yorkshire players have been held in such esteem, and he was in danger of being the one left behind. Perhaps no longer.
"He's been a victim of circumstance," Gillespie asserted at the time. "All Jonny can do is score as many runs as possible and keep as well as he can. He must be very close. I think his keeping has improved as well. There's no secret to that. He's worked incredibly hard and turned himself into a very fine keeper.
"We shouldn't expect him to be around at Yorkshire because I think England honours will come calling sooner rather than later. He is in special form. He is a fantastic player."
Bairstow recognises his fortune. "It's quite an exciting patch to be in: playing for Yorkshire, one of the biggest clubs in the world, being successful for them, and the stature that comes with it can only be good for me when I pull an England jersey on. It's a good place to be at the moment is Yorkshire."
But he will feel that Chester-le-Street is better. He is a more adaptable and rounded batsman than, say, Sam Billings, while granting Billings' destructive ability, and the 50-over format, especially when played with the vigour of this new-look England team, seems eminently suited to his game. But he is not about to put one format above another.
"I think I have the capability for all three formats - and I have played for England in all three formats. Whichever format I am picked in next I think I'm without doubt capable of doing a very, very, very good job for England."
When a man uses three verys, only a fool does not take him seriously.
The prime reason Bairstow's England's career has stalled is, of course, the player nursing the split webbing. Suggestions are beginning to be heard that Buttler's batting is so valuable to England that he should play as a specialist batsman, at least in some formats, although that view has yet to gain ground.
Bairstow knows the way is barred, under current arrangements, to play regularly for England as a keeper-batsman, although he also believes himself capable of playing as a specialist batsman. He had a close-up view of Buttler in the NatWest Blast Roses match at Headingley when his lethal 71 from 35 balls brought Lancashire a last-ball win before a capacity crowd. From behind the stumps, Bairstow smiled at Buttler's audacity and exchanged a pleasantry or two.
"I know he batted well against Yorkshire," Bairstow said ruefully. "It's either smile or you start crying. There are innings that you look back and smile about even if you have been on the receiving end of it. He is playing exceptionally well at the moment and long may that continue."
Jonny Bairstow was coaching at Whixley as part of the ECB Small Grant Scheme initiative, supported by the England cricket sponsor Waitrose which will be donating £100 for every boundary scored by England during the Ashes series.