Strauss excited by Bairstow potential
England captain Andrew Strauss believes newcomer Jonny Bairstow will thrive should he be picked for the first Investec Test against West Indies tomorrow.
An injury to Ravi Bopara looks likely to give Bairstow the opportunity to push his case in five-day cricket, with the Yorkshire batsman being chosen in a 13-man squad.
His international experience thus far has come only in limited-overs cricket, though he has made a significant impression.
On one-day international debut against India last summer, Bairstow struck a sparkling 21-ball unbeaten 41 to steer England to a series-sealing success.
That is one example of an aptitude for impressing at significant junctures that has been a hallmark of the 22-year-old’s career to date.
Strauss feels it is difficult to project how someone will perform in the game’s premier discipline, but is confident Bairstow’s talent will see him through.
The skipper said: “There is one thing that no player knows until they have played Test cricket - how you will deal with the pressure of it. But he has given every indication so far that it will not be a problem for him.
“He’s a really exciting talent. He has shown glimpses of it in the shorter forms of the game and his first-class record is excellent.
“He can play the game at a number of different paces as well, and for a guy batting at number six that is that is a great attribute to have.
“He is young and enthusiastic and it’s been great having him around because it just reminds us all how special it is to be representing your country; when a guy is in line to possibly make his debut and you can see the excitement on his face.
“It has come a little bit from left-field for him but I'm sure if he gets the chance he will make a really good fist of it.”
Should he make his debut tomorrow, Bairstow will be boosted by doing it on home soil.
Strauss admits that, after a difficult winter - England suffered a 3-0 Test series defeat against Pakistan before drawing 1-1 with Sri Lanka - all of his players are relishing the opportunity to compete on familiar turf.
“There's a real buzz about proceedings and from our point of view we are very keen to get back in our home conditions,” he admitted.
“I think the bowlers, in particular, are keen to get back to see the ball swinging and seaming a bit. From a batsman’s point of view, there are different challenges at this time of year.
“They are challenges we’ve had to deal with before on numerous occasions and we’re well-equipped to deal with them.”
Well-equipped they will need to be against a West Indies side that, according to Strauss, will pose a difficult challenge.
Yet the England captain is relishing the contest, insisting the first Test of the summer is always an exciting occasion.
He said: “You only have to look at the way the West Indies have played recently to know that they're a match for most sides
“But we’re looking forward to the chance to prove ourselves again which is what you've always got to do in international cricket.
“The first Test of a summer is always exciting and we just cannot wait to get out there and play.”