Jonny Bairstow has said he wants to keep wickets in the upcoming fourth England vs India Test in Southampton.
Bairstow fractured his middle finger while keeping wickets in the third Test at Trent Bridge last week. As a result, he had to leave the field with Jos Buttler taking over behind the stumps. Buttler, England’s limited-overs ‘keeper, settled immediately into the role and followed it up with a maiden Test hundred on day four.
After the game, head coach Trevor Bayliss had said Bairstow could play as a specialist batsman with Buttler taking over behind the stumps in the fourth Test. At the same time, he had also said that it would be tough to convince Bairstow to give up wicketkeeping.
And the way Bairstow spoke ahead of the upcoming game, it seems Bayliss has a major task in his hand.
“The finger feels good. The swelling has gone down. I’m going to try and keep wicket in training this afternoon as well,” Bairstow told a news conference on Tuesday.
Bairstow further said he is desperate to retain his place as ‘keeper.
“You obviously want to play so, if I am not able to keep wicket, then I’d like to think I would play as a specialist batsman. But at the same time, I am desperate to try and keep my place as the keeper,” he said.
Well, the stats would certainly make England cautious. When wicketkeeping, Bairstow averages 42.33. And when he plays just as a pure batsman, the average falls dramatically to 28.96. But at the same time, one cannot ignore the fact that he played solely as a batsman between 2012 to 2015 – a period where he was still finding his feet in the Tests.
It was only from 2016 that Bairstow became a batting mainstay of this side.
Meanwhile, Bairstow has continued to impress with the bat. He is England’s leading run scorer in the series with 206 runs at an average of 41.20.
When asked whether he would be expected to step up as a specialist batsman, Bairstow replied: “I think that is quite a bold statement.
“If you look, my stats are better when I am keeping wicket as well, so you are entering uncharted territories when you make bold statements like that.
“I am very keen to keep my spot as keeper, because I like to think it has gone well over the last 38, 39 Test matches,” he said.
The fourth Test gets underway on Thursday at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.