Bairstow relishing India return
England may have struggled on their recent tour of India, but Jonny Bairstow cannot wait to get back out to the sub-continent with the England Performance Programme.
The 22-year-old Yorkshireman will head out to Pune and Mumbai later this month along with the other batsmen in the EPP set-up and the squad’s spin bowlers. It was also confirmed yesterday that the players involved will be joined by a three-strong fully-fledged Test match contingent, headed by captain Andrew Strauss.
After contributing just 49 runs from four innings as England suffered a 5-0 whitewash against India, Bairstow is delighted to have been given an opportunity to work on his skills in unfamiliar conditions.
Reflecting on his experiences last month, he said: “It was obviously tough. There are areas that we're going to improve on and that's why we're going back to India with the England Performance Programme.
“I think it’s fantastic that we’re able to go back there for these three weeks, to learn how to play in those conditions and to groove your game.
“Then, if there is the opportunity to go back and play against India in the future, we’re well set and we can execute the skills that we’ve practiced previously in the games.”
Bairstow is part of the EPP set-up for a second consecutive winter, yet much has changed since he visited Lougborough 12 months ago.
After a series of impressive performances on the domestic circuit - and with England Lions - the wicketkeeper-batsman received a late call into England’s team for the final NatWest Series ODI against India in September.
England fans will need no reminding of what happened next. A swashbuckling unbeaten 41, from just 21 deliveries, saw England to victory and earned Bairstow the man of the match award on debut.
A thrilling hundred in England’s second warm-up match in India - against a Hyderabad Cricket Association XI - followed, further increasing the weight of expectation on a player new to international cricket.
Not one to get carried away by the hype, Bairstow explained: “I don't tend to think about things like that. It's obviously fantastic to get the coverage I did get after Cardiff and after the hundred in Hyderabad, but at the same time the past is the past and you can only go forward.
“You can't think about the occasion. You've just got to go in there as if you were playing back at school. I know it's completely different, but you've got to get your mindset as, ‘it's another innings’. You either face up and front up or you’re gone.”
On his return to India, Bairstow will be able to rely on the expert advice of Graeme Thorpe - once an England batsman for all seasons, now the ECB’s lead batting coach.
Thorpe is looking forward to imparting his knowledge about how to do yourself justice in all conditions.
“I’m pleased the programmes this winter are Asian, because it will open up their eyes very quickly to what it is all about over there,” he said of Bairstow and his young colleagues.
“You just don’t know what opportunities are going to arise. If someone had said last year that Jonny Bairstow, coming off our performance programme, would have played six ODIs by now I’d have been very surprised.
“But through his attitude and performance, he’s shown that anything is possible. It’s a great example for all the lads coming onto the programme this year. If you work hard and make progress, you can put pressure on the guys who are in the England team.”
Bairstow added: “I’ll be speaking to Thorpey, because he was obviously a fantastic player of spin and played out on the sub-continent quite a bit.
“I’ll be speaking to him about ways to execute theories, but at the end of the day I’m someone who likes to keep it quite simple. I don’t like to over-complicate things.
“I spoke to Andy Flower when we were out there. You take information from everyone and try and sift that and put it in one place in your mind where it’s clear.
“I’m going to work on it and then if it comes off you’ll see.”