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The Big Interview with Yorkshire cricketer Jonny Bairstow
Experience is the name of the game for rising Yorkshire cricket star Jonny Bairstow during a winter of tours to Australia and West Indies. Tykes reporter GRAHAM HARDCASTLE talks to the York-based ace.
Jonny Bairstow is one of English cricket’s brightest young talents with both bat and the gloves.
The 21-year-old Yorkshire player has recently spent a month in Australia with the ECB’s Performance Programme squad, and he is due to travel to the West Indies this month with the England Lions.
He has starred for the Tykes in all forms of the game during the last two county seasons, so much so that former team-mate Jacques Rudolph tipped him to be playing full international cricket within three years.
A national newspaper even included Bairstow’s name in a possible team for the 2013 Ashes series on home soil just after the 2009 series – and now talk of the Ashes is all the rage again following England’s recent success down under.
If Bairstow fulfills Rudolph’s prediction, he is likely to be playing against the old enemy.
The York-based player said: “It’s a long way away is that. I’m just concentrating on advancing my career one step at a time at the moment.
“We’re going away to the West Indies in a few weeks with the Performance Programme squad, then it’s all about preparing for the season with Yorkshire.
“I’ll take it from there, and hopefully the other things can look after themselves.
“If I do get called up to the full squad, obviously it would be an absolute honour for me. But that will only happen if I work hard on making sure that my performances for Yorkshire are as good as they can be.”
Bairstow, Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth met up with county colleagues Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan on a couple of occasions while in Australia, and Bresnan has since gone on to help terrorise the Aussies.
The ex-Dunnington player said: “Everyone at the club’s really proud of what Brezzy’s done, from players through to officials and no doubt supporters too.
“Playing in the Ashes is everybody’s dream, and he has done absolutely brilliantly.
“Brezzy and Ajmal have both worked really hard to take advantage of the chance they’ve been given. We’re all working really hard back at Yorkshire and in the Performance Programme squad to try and emulate them.”
Bairstow, who has not yet scored a professional century despite impressing, had never been to Australia before departing in mid-November.
He only played one of three matches on tour against Queensland and Western Australia XIs, but managed to assume his familiar role of “match finisher” with an unbeaten 24 in a four-day fixture against Western Australia.
“To go and play in Australia was something that I had never done before, so I was very keen to go and take on board all the different experiences,” added Bairstow. “I only played in one game, but I was pleased to get the runs that I got.
“Everyone was working on the short ball out there, which was something that was helped by the nature of the Australian pitches.
“We were working on the back foot more than anything, but the main thing was about drilling the basics and going from there.
“The whole point of the trip was to go out there, play some cricket and see how you perform under more pressure.
“They were very different elements, and we were there to test ourselves in different conditions. It was a good and enjoyable five weeks, but everybody worked really, really hard.”
One of the more noteworthy experiences for Bairstow was to be given the 12th man duties for the full England side on the second day of the opening Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Lyth had done it during the first day, but Bairstow managed to get out onto the field as England defended a first innings score of 260.
He recalled: “I was really pleased to be able to get on the field for six overs, it was absolutely awesome.
“The guys around the team were really good to me and encouraging me. To be around the England team environment during a series as big as that can have only helped me. It was a huge honour.”
The forthcoming England Lions tour to the Caribbean will last for two months – and, like Australia, will ensure that Bairstow and company gain plenty more valuable cricketing experiences.
The Lions will play seven four-day matches against West Indian domestic teams, and one of those valuable experiences will come if Bairstow gets selected to play in the match against Barbados.
He explained: “It will certainly be interesting if I get to face Tino Best out there.
“I’m sure he’d love to rattle a few cages, so it will be good fun. He’s a good bloke who enjoyed his time with us at Yorkshire immensely.
“I don’t think he’s got any harsh feelings about anything that happened at Yorkshire. It will be good fun, and hopefully I can do well against him.”
Adil Rashid will link up with the Lions after his spell playing domestic Twenty20 cricket in Australia, making it four White Rose players on tour.
But Rashid, Bairstow, Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth are only due to arrive back in England less than a fortnight before the start of the County Championship season against Worcestershire at New Road on April 8.
Bairstow is confident that the county can better last season’s third place finish in the Championship and semi-final exit in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
He added: “We’ll all be working really hard to try to make sure that we do as well as we did last year. If we can do even better, then great. We’ll all be looking to hit the ground running when we get back.”