JASON GILLESPIE says one of Jonny Bairstow’s rivals for the England Test wicketkeeper’s spot is going to have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to usurp him for the opening Test against Sri Lanka in June.
Gillespie’s comments came after York’s Bairstow scored an excellent 123 for Yorkshire during yesterday’s final day of their drawn three-day friendly against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at Headingley.
The 24-year-old’s tenth first-class hundred moved him level with his late father David’s tally of tons during his career between 1976 and 1989.
There has been widespread talk that Bairstow will be one of the fall guys from the Test team after the disastrous Ashes campaign, in which he played the final two Tests at Melbourne and Sydney.
If you believe the pundits, Matt Prior and Jos Buttler are ahead of him in the pecking order. Yorkshire coach Gillespie doesn’t believe them.
He said: “I don’t quite subscribe to that (view). Jonny, at the moment, is the Test keeper. He is England’s Test wicketkeeper. He has just punched out another hundred here, and he has kept very well.
“I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be in that first Test. With all due respect to other players, what have they done to make the selectors change their mind on Jonny?
“He’s played two Test matches as keeper, and he certainly didn’t disgrace himself. In fact, he got better as each innings went on. There’s going to have be some very good explaining as to why Jonny’s not going to keep in that first Test if he doesn’t.”
The fact that Bairstow’s place is in question is more down to his lack of a significant score with the bat in his last eight Test innings.
“I hear all the talk that he may not be the Test keeper, but nobody’s been able to give a reason why,” continued Gillespie.
“Do you a jettison a keeper after two Test matches? If they did that, Rod Marsh wouldn’t have played 96 Test matches for Australia. There are a number of players who wouldn’t have had distinguished careers.
“I think his keeping is improving with every outing in long-form cricket. He is just getting better and better. We saw the improvement from Melbourne to Sydney with his keeping in Test cricket.
“England would be on an absolute winner with him coming in at number seven. That’s about as good as it gets, someone as devastating as that who can turn games so quickly.”
Bairstow’s 156-balls innings included 12 fours and three sixes as Yorkshire made 454 in reply to 139, an innings which also included hundreds for Gary Ballance and opener Adam Lyth.
In their second innings, Leeds/Bradford were 63-2 from 29 overs when bad light prevented any play after tea.
Gillespie described the match, which saw all his key players either spend time at the crease or get overs under their belt, as “an incredibly useful workout”.
Yorkshire travel to Wantage Road next Tuesday for a three-day non first-class friendly against Division One rivals Northamptonshire.
Captain Andrew Gale will travel but not play as he continues his recovery from a hip injury, but New Zealand overseas player Kane Williamson will feature. He arrived in England on Wednesday straight from the World Twenty20.