The Ashes – Yorkshire CCC’s Jonny Bairstow backed to play leading role for England against Australia

YORKSHIRE’S Jonny Bairstow has been handed a show of faith by England coach Trevor Bayliss, who insists the World Cup winner is at his most dangerous when the pressure is on.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 10:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 11:03 pm
England's Jonny Bairstow endured a tough time with the bat during the first Ashes Test match at Edgbaston. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Bairstow played a vital role in landing England their long-awaited one-day silverware earlier last month but has become a less consistent contributor in the Test arena.

He was dismissed for eight and six as Australia won the Ashes opener by a crushing margin of 251, having bagged a pair of ducks against Ireland a week earlier.

That sequence of low scores lowered his average to 22.91 since the start of last summer, well below his career mark of 35.70 and nowhere near a true representation of man with six Test hundreds and 20 half-centuries to his name.

England head coach Trevor Bayliss. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

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While there is no real appetite to drop Bairstow, both he and Jos Buttler gave huge amounts during the World Cup campaign and the idea that they might benefit from some time out of the glare has its supporters.

Bayliss has no such inclination, however. Asked if he was concerned about the wicketkeeper-batsman’s position ahead of next week’s second Test at Lord’s, Bayliss said: “I wouldn’t have thought so. He’s got a bit in the bank, Jonny. We know what a class player he is and he’s at his best when he’s got a point to prove.

“He usually finds a way to motivate himself. When he’s got a point to prove that’s usually when he’s at the top of his game.”

Bayliss was also supportive of Bairstow’s ODI opening partner Jason Roy who has yet to show he can replicate his domineering limited-overs style in the longer format – different balls, different bowlers and different field settings adding up to very different results so far.

England's James Anderson Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Roy’s only knock of note in his first four innings came at No 3 against Ireland, nightwatchman Jack Leach having taken the shine off the Dukes ball.

His second outing against Australia began promisingly enough but ended in ghastly fashion, charging down the crease and bowled through the gate by Nathan Lyon in what was ostensibly a day five rearguard.

Roy has been instructed to play his natural game wherever possible and Bayliss declined to punish him for doing just that.

“He was trying throughout both innings to knuckle down and play in a Test match mode. But if he gets out like he did he’s got to take it on the chin, we’ve got to take it on the chin,” he said.

Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie. Picture: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

“If you’ve been applauding him for playing those kind of shots elsewhere it’s a bit hard to be critical if he gets out that way.”

One obvious up-side in a losing cause was Roy’s Surrey captain Rory Burns, who ground out a maiden hundred in Birmingham.

He does not have a classical appearance at the crease or the widest array of strokes, but he does have an Ashes century at the first time of asking.

“We knew he was a fighter. He’s got a good style about him as a bloke so I’m very happy for him,” said Bayliss.

“He’d probably be the first to admit he hasn’t got the copybook technique but neither has the number four in the other team either (Steve Smith) and he scored plenty too.

“That just proves you don’t have to have the perfect technique to be able to score runs. It’s about understanding how your technique works and trying to make the best of the positions you find yourself in.”

Debate over selection for Lord’s continued in the wake of confirmation that opening bowler James Anderson would not play any part in the game.

England’s record wicket-taker broke down after just four overs in the series opener at Edgbaston and did not bowl again as Australia romped to victory.

Scans confirmed he has no chance of playing at Lord’s, with assessment taking place “on an ongoing basis” regarding his comeback.

It means Jofra Archer is likely to make his Test debut for England, the 24-year-old stylishly staking his claim with six wickets and a century during a dominant display for Sussex’s second XI.

Archer was left out at Edgbaston after playing through the pain of a side strain in the successful World Cup campaign.

But he dispelled doubts about his fitness yesterday with 6-27 from 12.1 overs – including four maidens – before producing a superb knock of 108.

Even before yesterday, former Yorkshire head coach Jason Gillespie – now in the same role at Sussex – urged England’s selectors to pick Archer for Lord’s.

“I’ll be completely honest and I might be biased as coach at Sussex but I was surprised he didn’t play the first Test to be perfectly blunt – he should have played,” the Australian told Talksport.

“All this stuff about his side, look, he’s 100 per cent fit, he’s fine and ready to go.

“Personally I think England missed a trick by not playing him but he’ll certainly play at Lord’s.

“For me, pick a guy when he’s in form, going well so for me it’s a no-brainer.

“He must play this second Test. He adds another dimension to this England bowling attack – he’s got pace, bounce, movement off the seam, through the air.”