Bairstow up for the challenge
Yorkshire’s Jonathan Bairstow intends to use the stiff competition for places within the England set-up as a source of motivation as he looks to take his game to the next level.
The 21-year-old is one of two wicketkeepers, along with Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter, in the England Performance Programme squad that flew to Brisbane last week to provide back-up to England’s Test party.
Matt Prior remains England’s number one behind the stumps in the longest form of the game, while Steven Davies, who is also in the Ashes squad, impressed in the recent one-day international series against Pakistan.
With Kieswetter and Bairstow among those waiting in the wings, England are certainly not short of options behind the stumps.
And Bairstow, who operated as a specialist batsman for Yorkshire in the second half of the 2010 season, is relishing the challenge of forcing his way into contention.
He told ecb.co.uk: “The standard is obviously very high and you are constantly looking to improve your game to push those guys who are ahead of you so that they have to keep on improving.
“If you improve to the nth degree then you are putting yourself in a prime position for the selectors to then pick you and go from there.
“You’re always trying to pick up on those one per cents that will get you to the next level.
“Everyone wants to go on and play for their country, so that’s something in the minds of everyone who’s here on the Performance Programme.
“That one call-up could make your career or break your career and that’s why we’re grooving our game so tough and so hard. They are making us work towards becoming international cricketers.”
Although understandably pleased by his elevation to the EPP ranks, Bairstow is refusing to look too far ahead when it comes to his international ambitions.
“I’m obviously delighted to get called into this squad and hopefully I can kick on,” he added.
“But I’m not someone that really targets anything. I like to just get on with things and do as well as I can.
“I think if you set targets then you can be disappointed if you don’t reach them and you can sometimes see it as a failure when unforeseen circumstances have stopped you or got in the way.”
Bairstow is also looking forward to the new domestic campaign after being part of a Yorkshire side that exceeded all expectations this summer.
Under the leadership of Andrew Gale - another member of the EPP squad - the White Rose county finished third in the LV= County Championship and were still in with a chance of claiming the title heading into the final day of the season.
Yorkshire also reached the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40, having finished top of Group B, and Bairstow is confident there is more to come from a team packed with young talent.
Reflecting on their achievements this year, he said: “I think people underestimated the talent we have at the club and the enthusiasm and work ethic that we have.
“At the start of the season we were among the favourites to go down, but there was a great team spirit and morale around the dressing room. Everyone got on with each other and worked hard and wanted to do well for each other.
“That showed in all forms of cricket, whether that be Twenty20, CB40 or four-day cricket.
“To be in with a chance of winning the championship on the last day was absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us but it was just little things that I’m sure we’ll learn from in the future, being a young side and relatively inexperienced.
“It’s something that we can definitely take forward and expand on in the forthcoming years. It will stand us in good stead for hopefully winning trophies in the future.”