Bairstow pays price as Test re­build­ing process be­gins

Si­b­ley and Craw­ley in squad for New Zealand Mah­mood and Parkin­son boost bowl­ing at­tack

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Jonny Bairstow be­came the most high-pro­file ca­su­alty as Eng­land set about re­fresh­ing their Test squad yes­ter­day, with the wick­et­keeper­bats­man dropped for the win­ter tour to New Zealand.

Four un­capped play­ers were named in the squad as Eng­land sig­nalled a new era at the out­set of an­other Ashes cy­cle.

Joe Root, the Test cap­tain, said last week that plan­ning for the 2021-22 Ashes started now and the drop­ping of Bairstow, a reg­u­lar for the last four years, was the biggest de­ci­sion by the se­lec­tors, who called up for the first time bats­men Do­minic Si­b­ley and Zak Craw­ley, as well as Lan­cashire leg-spin­ner Matt Parkin­son and his county col­league, quick bowler Saqib Mah­mood. Sur­rey’s Ol­lie Pope re­turns to the Test squad for the first time in a year.

Bairstow was told in a phone call by Ed Smith, the na­tional se­lec­tor, that he was not part of the squad for two Tests in New Zealand. The York­shire player (be­low) was shocked by the news and thought he would be trav­el­ling as firstchoic­e wick­et­keeper af­ter be­ing handed a Test cen­tral con­tract last week. He is due to meet Smith to­mor­row to dis­cuss his fu­ture, but is un­der­stood to be de­ter­mined to re­gain his place.

How­ever, Bairstow knows his Test fu­ture is likely to be as a spe­cial­ist bats­man. Smith con­firmed Jos But­tler would be wick­et­keeper in New Zealand and he is set for a long run in the role. The se­lec­tors want to see Bairstow con­cen­trat­ing on bat­ting and re­gain­ing his form af­ter a year in which he has av­er­aged 20.25 in Test cricket.

Bairstow is renowned for his abil­ity to prove doubters wrong, so Smith hopes drop­ping him mo­ti­vates him to ad­dress tech­ni­cal is­sues. Bairstow has a prob­lem be­ing bowled by balls cut­ting back into him, prob­a­bly a re­sult of ex­pand­ing his game in white-ball cricket to be­come one of the best open­ers in the one-day game.

“Jonny is a very tal­ented crick­eter. We be­lieve he has the po­ten­tial to be a top, top player in Test cricket. He has played a lot, in all forms, and it’s an op­por­tu­nity for him to re­set and work on one or two things. If I had to give a pre­dic­tion, it would be that he comes back stronger and has a very good ca­reer in Test cricket,” Smith said. “He hasn’t been rested. That would be a cop-out. How­ever, I do see Jonny as be­ing a top bats­man, so I would say it’s an op­por­tu­nity to re­set and come back.”

Root will re­turn to his favoured po­si­tion at No4 and the Test team will now be picked from spe­cial­ists rather than made up of ag­gres­sive all-rounders who shaped the Trevor Bayliss era.

Si­b­ley and Craw­ley are both open­ers and will vie to part­ner Rory Burns at the top of the or­der. Pope could bat at No 5, ahead of the all-rounders Ben Stokes, at six, and But­tler, at seven.

Pope will deputise as a wick­et­keeper, al­though Ben Foakes has been put on standby in case But­tler suf­fers a se­ri­ous in­jury.

“Joe wants to bat No 4 and, as we’ve dis­cussed, that has im­pacted on se­lec­tion. We need three above him and that’s why re­serve op­tions or depth is geared to­wards the top three,” Smith said.

“Joe’s po­si­tion does af­fect the struc­ture. We feel we’re com­fort­able sup­port­ing his de­ci­sion to bat No4. We’re look­ing to develop a top three to al­low him to bat No4.”

Si­b­ley has earned se­lec­tion through weight of runs for War­wick­shire. He is the lead­ing run­scorer in county cricket and has faced al­most 1,000 more de­liv­er­ies than any other bats­man this sum­mer, sug­gest­ing he could give Eng­land so­lid­ity along­side Burns.

Craw­ley is more for­tu­nate to be picked and has been called up on po­ten­tial rather than form. He av­er­ages 31 in first-class cricket and, at 21, it is ask­ing a lot to make the step up to Test level.

Parkin­son is an at­tack­ing legspin­ner and Root wants vari­a­tion in his at­tack. Mah­mood is raw, but skil­ful and tours in the ab­sence of James An­der­son, who has not suf­fi­ciently re­cov­ered from his calf in­jury.

An­der­son and Mark Wood will have to prove their fit­ness for the South Africa tour at a fast bowlers’ camp in De­cem­ber.

Eng­land have rested a num­ber of their se­nior play­ers from the first half of the tour, which in­volves five Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als. Root, Stokes, But­tler, Jofra Archer, Ja­son Roy and Moeen Ali all miss the trip af­ter the drain­ing World Cup and Ashes sum­mer. Moeen had in­di­cated at the week­end he wanted to go to New Zealand but has been told to rest. James Vince and Dawid Malan are old faces in the Twenty20 squad, but there is a first call-up for Som­er­set’s Tom Ban­ton, the most ex­cit­ing young white-ball

English bats­man in the county game.

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