England’s test side may be looking to reinvent the game and there is a queue of players waiting to join the ‘Bazball’ revolution. The selectors have made some changes to the squad for the upcoming series in New Zealand, but it’s felt that the batting unit is largely established.
One man waiting to rejoin the party is Johnny Bairstow. After a prolific home summer, a freak injury ruled him out of the winter tours, and his route back into the side is far from clear.
An Ashes Test
England’s biggest test series of all is just around the corner. 2023 will see Ben Stokes’ men host Australia as they look to reclaim the Ashes for the first time in eight years. It’s a stiff test for the side and the betting markets underline the size of the task.
Australia will arrive as red hot favourites for the five test series which will run across June and July next year. According to the best sports betting sites affiliated with AsiaBet, Pat Cummins and his men should retain the iconic trophy, while hosts England are very much the underdogs.
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It’s the place to follow England’s Ashes fortunes, but will their hopes be boosted by the return of Johnny Bairstow?
Johnny Bairstow’s 2022 in Numbers
An attacking player by nature, Johnny Bairstow embraced the new approach laid down by England’s test coach Brendon McCullum and the skipper Ben Stokes. The Yorkshireman played in ten test matches in 2022 and he scored 1061 runs with no fewer than six centuries.
It’s almost certain that, if Bairstow had not suffered that freak accident on the golf course, he would have finished the year as test cricket’s highest run scorer over the last 12 months. That tally of 1061 runs still leaves the 33-year-old in third place in the overall list and that’s an impressive achievement.
Bairstow was crucial in helping his team hunt down stiff targets in the fourth innings. Against New Zealand, India and South Africa, this 2022 team set new records for final innings chases and Johnny Bairstow was a key part of those achievements.
On tour in Pakistan, Harry Brook grabbed his opportunity and 468 runs in a three match series suggests he won’t be dropped anytime soon. England have also sought to address problem positions such as those at the top of the order. Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett came together for the first time to put on 233 in Rawalpindi.
England’s batting is as solid as it’s been for many years, so how do the selectors find room for Johnny Bairstow?
Where Does Bairstow Slot in?
England’s top order all scored heavily in the recent series win over Pakistan. Harry Brook was the standout performer with three consecutive centuries while the statistics show that Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope also scored tons.
Joe Root was relatively quiet by his high standards, but it’s unlikely that the selectors will look to drop the leading run scorer within the squad. One advantage that Johnny Bairstow has is his ability to keep wicket.
Bairstow could come in at number seven and take the wicket keeping gloves. That would be unfair on current incumbent Ben Foakes who is England’s best stumper and a solid batter in his own right.
It’s one way of getting him back into the side. England may have been successful in Pakistan, but the team will have a better chance of regaining the Ashes if the prolific Johnny Bairstow is involved.