Jonny Bairstow set for Test return for Sri Lanka tour as England’s former wicketkeeper replaces the injured Ollie Pope for upcoming series
- Jonny Bairstow is set for a return to the Test squad for the Sri Lanka series
- England’s former wicket keeper will be called in to replace injured Ollie Pope
- Bairstow has not played in the five-day format in just under a year
- The 31-year-old showed his quality in the T20 win over South Africa on Sunday
Jonny Bairstow will be handed a Test reprieve when he is selected for England’s tour of Sri Lanka next month.
The absence of Ollie Pope, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, will open the door for Bairstow to return for two Tests in Galle that will be confirmed later this week.
Bairstow has not played Test cricket since England’s opening match against South Africa in Centurion just under a year ago, having earlier lost the wicket-keeping gloves he cherished to Jos Buttler.
Jonny Bairstow is set to be handed an England reprieve for the Test series with Sri Lanka
Then his omission was underlined when the selectors did not renew his full central contract.
But Bairstow, 31, showed his quality with an outstanding 86 off 48 balls to win the first Twenty20 international against South Africa, having been shunted to No 4.
The only thing to be decided is whether Bairstow travels as a specialist batsman, or back-up keeper to Buttler ahead of Ben Foakes.
England may rest Jofra Archer for the Sri Lanka trip even though he is due to return home from South Africa on Wednesday after Tuesday’s final T20 and will miss the three one-day internationals that come next.
The 31-year-old has been out in the cold for almost a year but is set to replace Ollie Pope
Bairstow showed his class against South Africa in England’s T20 victory on Sunday
That would reignite the thorny issue of England players featuring in the Indian Premier League but missing international matches, a situation that will be compounded if the tournament is increased next year to 10 franchises, as is mooted.
It is a delicate subject and was addressed yesterday by Chris Woakes, who made himself unavailable for this year’s IPL to concentrate on his England career and will replace Archer in England’s 50-over squad. ‘Of course I can understand if fans are frustrated and players missing England games will always ruffle a few feathers.
‘But I can sit here on the other side of the fence and see why the IPL is so beneficial,’ said Woakes.
‘It’s not the sole reason we won the 2019 World Cup, but guys playing in these tournaments certainly helped our development as a team.’
It is not yet known whether Bairstow will be a keeper-batsman or a specialist batsman
England look certain to name an unchanged team for the game at Newlands on Tuesday, even though the T20 series was wrapped up by their second win over South Africa on Sunday.
Eoin Morgan wants to field his full-strength side before Archer, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Chris Jordan depart and are replaced by Woakes, Joe Root, Olly Stone and Lewis Gregory.
The World Test Championship — introduced after years of discussion — looks doomed after just one cycle, with new ICC chairman Greg Barclay saying yesterday it was ‘unfit for purpose’.
It means the first final, scheduled for Lord’s next June, will also be the last.