Bairstow happy to jostle with Buttler
Jonny Bairstow is enjoying “jostling” for the England limited-overs wicketkeeper’s berth with Jos Buttler.
Bairstow’s last international with the keeping gloves on was England’s final game of the World Twenty20, a tournament in which Craig Kieswetter otherwise kept.
Buttler was preferred behind the stumps for the first of December’s two T20 internationals with India, and before the second game Bairstow flew home on compassionate grounds.
For the same reason Bairstow missed last month’s one-day series versus India, during which Buttler replaced the out-of-form Kieswetter.
With Bairstow back in the England fold, Buttler retained the gloves for England’s warm-up matches in New Zealand and Saturday’s first of three T20Is. Happily for Bairstow, he featured as a specialist batsman but is ready to challenge Buttler’s wicketkeeping role.
“There’s jostling for positions left, right and centre, whether that be in the bowling department, the batting department, the spin department or the wicketkeeping department,” Bairstow said.
“So we know that the strength in depth we’ve got in the squad is a very good place to be and we’re pleased with the performances that we’re putting in at the moment and we’ll keep hopefully doing that throughout the tour.”
Bairstow and Buttler’s batting is such that either could play as a specialist or as a wicketkeeper-batsman, and at 23 and 22 respectively they have time on their side.
They demonstrated their ability with the blade by respectively racing to 38 and 32 not out in Saturday’s record England total of 214 for seven, which featured 15 sixes.
“There’s naturally going to be competition for places,” Bairstow added.
“Jos has got the gloves at the moment and I’ll keep working hard - like I have been every training session to do my best if the opportunity arises to step in and try to take that chance.”
Both are also in the squad for three one-day internationals that follow as many T20Is.
Having been part of a 40-run win at Auckland’s Eden Park, whose boundaries were extremely short particularly down the ground, they are set to play at two more small venues: Hamilton’s Seddon Park tomorrow and Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on Friday.
“You go and play at different grounds all round the world and you turn up and adjust your plans and the way you play to the dimensions of the ground,” Bairstow said.
“If you go and play at a very big ground, if you go and play at a medium ground or anything like that, the plans change accordingly. But it’s a very entertaining game when the grounds are slightly smaller.”
Eoin Morgan, top-scorer in Auckland with 46, missed training today having jarred his back in the field at Eden Park.
During this morning’s practice at Seddon Park Jade Dernbach, the only bowler not to concede a six on Saturday, needed a stitch in his left forearm after a cut caused by a boot spike.
However, the mood in the England camp remains overwhelmingly positive.
“The energy that everyone brings, the youthful enthusiasm if you like, is fantastic,” Bairstow added.
“It’s a great dressing-room to be around at the moment and everyone’s really enjoying each other’s company - and we’re pleased with the brand of cricket that we’re playing.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on doing our basics as well as we have and we’re very pleased with the fielding performance that we put in up in Auckland and we’ll hope to emulate that again.”
New Zealand will have seamer Ian Butler and all-rounder Grant Elliott available tomorrow following injury. All-rounder Jimmy Neesham, called up in Auckland, has therefore been released from the squad.
Colin Munro, who struck three of the Black Caps’ six maximums at Eden Park, said: “Obviously Saturday was disappointing ... we weren’t up to scratch.
“We had plans to drop a little bit shorter and let them hit to the bigger boundary, but we were quite full and floaty - so we played into England’s hands to hit the short straight boundaries.
“Our lengths weren’t right and dropping five catches didn’t help. That’s not going to happen again.”