Jonny Bairstow’s hopes of earning a red-ball recall have taken a blow after he lost his England Test contract.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced its central contracts for the next 12 months on Wednesday and, while the 31-year-old has been given white-ball terms, his omission from the list of deals given out in the longest format was notable.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what is next for the Yorkshireman and whether this really is the end for him in England’s whites.
Where did it go wrong?
Bairstow’s form has declined dramatically during the last two years. A superb 110 against Sri Lanka in Colombo back in November 2018 appeared to mark the start of a new chapter after he batted at three. It was his third century in the space of 12 months, but in 20 Test innings since – in a variety of different positions – he has mustered only two fifties and an average of 17.45, plus a forgettable pair against Ireland at Lord’s.
Who has displaced Bairstow?
After he lost the wicketkeeper gloves and batted at three in the final Test against Sri Lanka two years ago, the right-hander was then given them back after Ben Foakes struggled during a series in the West Indies. A drawn home Ashes series in 2019 saw England’s selectors put faith in Jos Buttler behind the stumps – a decision which was only vindicated this summer – and, despite Bairstow’s open desire to win them back, youngsters Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley have knocked him further down the pecking order in the specialist batsmen stakes too.
What next for the Bradford-born gloveman?
An average of 34.74 in Test cricket with 184 catches and 13 stumpings from 70 matches may be where it finishes for Bairstow. Out of England’s red-ball side this summer, he played twice for Yorkshire in the Bob Willis Trophy and will get more opportunities to feature for them in the County Championship moving forward. He also still remains a crucial member of Eoin Morgan’s one-day team in both formats.
A silver lining?
Throughout Bairstow’s career and life he has faced many challenges and generally battled through them, and he will expect to do the same now. But if this really is the end for him in Test cricket, it is not all bad. With back-to-back Twenty20 World Cups coming up, having one less player not involved in all formats could be a positive for Morgan. With a bigger focus on white-ball cricket and another point to prove, Bairstow can attempt to be even more destructive and further cement his status as one of England’s greatest ever white-ball players.