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Jonny Bairstow makes 97 for Yorkshire 2nd XI on comeback from broken leg

Combative innings at Headingley raises hopes of Ashes readiness after lengthy lay-off

Jonny Bairstow made 97 from 88 balls on his comeback from a broken leg, Yorkshire 2nd XI vs Nottinghamshire 2nd XI, Headingley, April 25, 2023

Jonny Bairstow made 97 from 88 balls on his comeback from a broken leg  •  Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow confirmed he is ready to push for a place in this summer's Ashes, after producing a hard-hitting innings of 97 from 88 balls for Yorkshire 2nd XI, in his first competitive innings since breaking his leg last summer.
Bairstow, 33, had been in the form of his life for England's Test team in the 2022 home season, scoring 681 runs at 75.66 at close to a run a ball, including four centuries and a 71 not out in five consecutive innings against New Zealand and India, to kickstart the so-called "Bazball" revolution.
However, in September, he suffered multiple fractures to his left leg during a freak golfing accident, which ruled him out of the final Test of the summer against South Africa, as well as England's T20 World Cup victory in Australia, and their subsequent Test campaigns in Pakistan and New Zealand.
He was also due to play for Punjab Kings in the ongoing IPL, but pulled out of that deal to concentrate on his return to red-ball cricket, which he is expected to step up with a comeback for Yorkshire's 1st XI in the County Championship against Glamorgan next month.
And while he had already insisted he was fit and ready for his comeback, Bairstow has now assuaged doubts as to whether his form would suffer for the lengthy lay-off, as he struck 13 fours and two sixes against Nottinghamshire 2nd XI at Headingley.
Stiffer tests will lie ahead, although Bairstow did come up against one prospective England team-mate in Nottinghamshire's Olly Stone, who played his first first-class game in two years against Hampshire earlier this month, and is building up his red-ball workload ahead of a prospective Ashes role.
Working up a sharp pace, Stone could have had Bairstow caught at second slip early in his innings, only for the ball to fly away to the boundary. However, he got his revenge in his subsequent spell, as Bairstow chopped a short ball to point while searching for his comeback hundred.
Bairstow is set to both field and keep wicket in the course of the match, to test his fitness in both roles. While he last week dismissed the notion of him taking the gloves for Yorkshire as a "non-story", his return to the England set-up could yet be as wicketkeeper in place of Ben Foakes, given that his own replacement in the middle order, Harry Brook, emerged as the winter's breakout star with 797 runs at 88.55 in his five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand.