Stokes set for move to No3 but Bairstow re­turn in doubt

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Galle

Eng­land are con­sid­er­ing mov­ing Ben Stokes to their prob­lem po­si­tion of No 3 but Jonny Bairstow may have to wait for his Test re­call.

Eng­land left Galle yes­ter­day morn­ing for a night in Colombo on their way to Kandy for the sec­ond Test, which starts on Wed­nes­day, and have dif­fi­cult se­lec­tion is­sues to re­solve de­spite taking a 1-0 lead in the se­ries. Bairstow will be put through a rig­or­ous fit­ness test on his dam­aged an­kle lig­a­ments over the next two days to de­cide whether he is fit enough to be con­sid­ered for se­lec­tion.

Ben Foakes’s man-of-the-match per­for­mance in the first Test guar­an­tees his place and Bairstow will have to ac­cept that his job keeping wicket is over for the time be­ing.

He comes into con­sid­er­a­tion as a spe­cial­ist bats­man and, with Moeen Ali set to drop back down the or­der, there is a va­cancy at three if Eng­land de­cide to change a win­ning team for the sec­ond Test.

If they stick with the same XI or just make one bowl­ing change by bring­ing in a seamer – most likely Stu­art Broad – for a spin­ner, then Stokes is poised to move up to No3.

Trevor Bayliss, the Eng­land coach, said: “In this Test, if we’d bowled first, and Mo had bowled 40 overs, then [Jos] But­tler was go­ing to bat No3. Go­ing for­ward, ob­vi­ously Jonny’s an op­tion. But Ben Stokes as well.

“We think in Eng­land, Stokes has got as good a tech­nique as any­one else to bat No3.

“Mo is still a chance there but he’s had a few op­por­tu­ni­ties up the or­der and at this stage hasn’t re­ally taken them. He’s a guy that’s ob­vi­ously go­ing to be in the team some­where. Yes, he’s been a guy we have thrown around a lit­tle bit.

“That’s some­times the lot of an all­rounder in the team: some­one like Mo who sees him­self as a bat­ter first and a bowler sec­ond. I think he’s had the most suc­cess in that mid­dlelower or­der.

“Long term, we’re start­ing to get a lit­tle closer to a sta­ble or­der.” Bayliss be­lieves the 211-run vic­tory in Galle in the first match of the three-Test se­ries was a big step to­wards cap­tain Joe Root stamp­ing his own mark on the team, par­tic­u­larly now his pre­de­ces­sor Alastair Cook has re­tired.

“What I would say al­ready on this tour, it is look­ing very much like there is a feel that this is the be­gin­nings of Joe Root’s team,” Bayliss said. “There are some new, younger play­ers com­ing into the team and around the squad and it just has that feel about it that this can be the be­gin­nings of a bet­ter time.”

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