ANDREW GALE expects York’s Jonny Bairstow to make a flying start to the forthcoming county season after a frustrating winter with England.

The Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman is currently taking a break from the game having not travelled to Sri Lanka on the county’s pre-season tour.

The 24-year-old Bairstow struggled to make an impression with the bat in his two Ashes Tests at Melbourne and Sydney this winter, although Yorkshire captain Gale was impressed with his wicketkeeping performances.

The aggressive right-hander then scored a first-class century for the Lions against a Sri Lanka Emerging Players team, but he did not make an impression on the unofficial three-Test series against Sri Lanka A with the willow.

Bairstow will start the season in Yorkshire colours against Somerset at Taunton on April 13, and is even expected to play in their three-day friendly against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at Headingley on Tuesday.

“We’ve given him a few weeks off because he’s had a long winter,” explained Gale, who admits that Bairstow may have lost a little bit of confidence this winter.

“When he comes back, he’ll be able to hit the ground running.

“What I thought was very encouraging was his wicket-keeping.

“I thought he handled the pressure (in th Ashes tour) and did quite well.”

Yorkshire finished their pre-season tour with a two-day match against a Sri Lanka Development team.

York’s Jack Leaning scored 85 not out and Adil Rashid hit 64 in a first-day score of 280 all out. The Sri Lankans were bowled out for 174 in reply, with Jonny Tattersall taking 4-24 with his legbreaks.