As the clamour for change at the top of England’s batting order ahead of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston grows, Jonny Bairstow finds the number of supporters in his corner at an all-time high.
The lashing at Lord’s has many believing that at least one of the hosts’ vulnerable top four – most likely to be Gary Ballance – must feel the axe as the series heads to the Midlands, with Bairstow in pole position to replace his Yorkshire teammate.
Should he get the nod, it will be the second time the flame-haired batsman has fought his way back into an England squad after being initially overlooked for the start of a series.
The last time he managed it, he made his highest Test-match score to date with a gutsy 95 against South Africa at the Home of Cricket in 2012.
Only the most precociously talented individuals are able to remind an English selection panel that tend to make an initial judgement on a player and stick to it that they still warrant consideration, and Bairstow is clearly one such player.
His county average for the current campaign has just risen above 100, thanks to a knock of 139 compiled against Worcestershire at precisely the same time that Alastair Cook’s side were being skittled for 103 in St John’s Wood.
His county coach, Jason Gillespie, feels the 25-year-old is finally ready to secure a long-term spot in the Test side. It is the former Australian bowler’s belief that Bairstow can cope with the step up in bowling class that playing at international level brings, with the technical faults many highlighted in his last outings now corrected.
Certainly his scores for the White Rose this summer indicate a man that seems hard to ignore, with England’s batting as fragile as an Easter Egg left in direct sunlight and Australia now odds-on favourites to win both the third Test and series respectively at odds of 10/11 and 1/2.
Should he regain an England place it will likely come at number five, with either Ian Bell or Joe Root moving up the order to fill the void left by Ballance.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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