JONNY Bairstow prizes his Test career above all else – because it will always be his most important stage.

His comments came after England's leading Test wicket-taker of all-time, James Anderson, admitted his fears for the future of the format.

Bairstow, England's one-day international opener and Test wicketkeeper, excels in all versions – as 62 white-ball appearances for his country demonstrate.

But 50 Test caps stand most proud for the 28-year-old Yorkshire star, who sees the obvious threat from Twenty20 franchise competitions to the well-being of cricket's longest format.

Bradford-born Bairstow has the chance to help make history with a first World Cup victory for England next year, yet success and longevity in Tests remain top of his agenda.

He does not disparage ODI team-mates Adil Rashid and Alex Hales' decision to relegate Test ambitions by agreeing white-ball-only county contracts. But categorically, Bairstow will not follow suit any time soon.

He regards Test cricket as "absolutely" the "ultimate" – although its future is uncertain, as global crowds prefer shorter fixes and players are tempted by bigger money for shorter working hours.

Bairstow said: "If we're not careful, there are going to be more and more people (giving up red-ball cricket).

"You've got lucrative tournaments – to go off for five weeks and earn a heck of a lot of money – with the strain and stress on the body of bowling only four overs comparative to 24 in a day in Test cricket."

Test team-mate Anderson concurred with that assessment, saying: "The way that cricket is going and the amount of Twenty20 cricket there is around the world, there is that worry that more and more people will start doing it.

"I just hope and pray there is enough love for Test cricket out there, not just the players that are playing at the moment but players coming through still having the ambition and drive to play Test cricket in the future."

Bairstow put himself in the mix for this year's Indian Premier League auction but did not land a deal.

Had he done so, he would not have missed any England engagements – unlike Hales and Rashid, who cannot press Test claims while playing limited-overs only.

"I won't be going down that route just yet – we can put that to bed for the next few years at least," said Bairstow.

"We need to back individuals' decisions. You can't force people into playing things.

"But I want to play all formats for England – I have put a lot of time and effort into white- and red-ball cricket over a long period of time to get into the teams and play for England. That's what I want to do for a long time."

The unrelenting international schedule means even Bairstow needs an occasional break, which he took during last month's Twenty20 international tri-series.

"I kept for a thousand overs in the Ashes; 6,000 balls before we even practised," he said.

"You have to be managed. In some ways it's not feasible to play every game and train every day, batting for hours in the nets. Otherwise you get complete burn-out of the squad in two years."

Yet if asked to skip any Tests, Bairstow may not be so amenable.

He said: "It's something we've definitely got to cherish. I want to go on and play as many Tests as I can – because you get remembered for how many Tests you've played."