The news coming out of England’s camp ahead of the Ashes in Australia is that wicket keeper Matt Prior is a doubt for the first Test in Brisbane, giving Jonny Bairstow the opportunity to shine with the gloves and bat.
When England line up for their final warm-up game versus a New South Wales XI, before the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba, they will do so without first-choice wicket keeper Prior who sustained a muscle tear in his calf against Australia A.
Losing their vice-captain at this stage is bad news for England, who are deemed the 10/11 favourites to retain the urn, if he is indeed declared unfit for the Gabba .
However, they have a natural replacement behind the stumps in Bairstow and the Yorkshireman will now get his chance to impress against this New South Wales XI.
Despite featuring heavily in England’s glorious Ashes summer on home soil, Bairstow’s place in the side Down Under looked to have been lost.
This was thanks to Joe Root’s demotion from opener to number six, allowing Michael Carberry to make a late charge to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order.
Having the skills to keep wicket may just be the key Bairstow needed to unlock the gate to re-establishing himself in the England starting XI.
While Prior is likely to force his way back in at some point, despite having endured a really poor Ashes campaign with the bat in the summer, Bairstow proved with some useful knocks against the Aussies, such as his 67 at Lord’s; that he has what it takes to make runs against this Australian attack.
Crucially though, if he does make runs in the warm-up game and then in the first Test, he could put pressure on any of the other middle order batsman besides Prior.
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