Miller: Bairstow deserves selection
National selector Geoff Miller had no hesitations in handing Jonny Bairstow his maiden England Test call-up for the Investec series opener against West Indies because the 22-year-old is “international class”.
The Yorkshire batsman, who has a first-class average of 46.37, broke onto the international scene last September and has since gone on to represent his country six times in both one-day international and Twenty20 forms of the game.
And after an impressive start to the season for the White Rose and a half-century for England Lions against the touring Windies, Bairstow now has the opportunity to make his five-day bow at Lord’s on Thursday.
“Jonny has played well at the beginning of this season and showed what he is capable of towards the end of last year,” Miller told ecb.co.uk.
“He played well in the first innings of this game (England Lions against West Indies). We have been watching that, monitoring that and he gets the nod.
“Ravi’s injured but there are one or two others who were close to the call. As normal, there was a deep and lengthy conversation, but in the end Jonny’s got the go ahead and we think he is international class.”
England have also strengthened their bowling department with the addition of seamer Graham Onions, who has impressed with 23 wickets in four first-class matches for Durham this season.
The 29-year-old returns to the squad after not making a Test appearance since January 2009.
“That’s opened the options, we have five seamers there so the captain and coach can go in any direction they want,” Miller said.
“If they want, they can play an extra seamer plus have the cover they need.”
Thursday’s match represents the start of a busy summer of Test cricket for England, with South Africa also touring the country.
After a disappointing winter that saw Andrew Strauss’ side defeated 3-0 by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and a drawn series in Sri Lanka, Miller is adamant England are fully prepared for the challenge of the Windies.
“I never look too far ahead, but we know we are a good side and we are in our country,” he said.
“We have played good cricket over the last two to three years, there was a bit of a blip last winter in different conditions that we are going to have over here in England.
“We think positively, we have a good side and preparation will be good so we should do alright.
”It’s always important and it is for us to read those conditions. They might be slightly different from venue to venue but we are pretty good at reading our venues and know which is the best side to perform there.”
Rain frustrated West Indies in their attempts to kick start their tour against Sussex at the PROBIZ County Ground last week, but a tough encounter against the Lions, led by James Taylor, at Wantage Road has given them some much-needed match practice.
The Windies were dismissed for a disappointing first-innings 147, only to show their international pedigree in the second outing by recovering from 26 for three to head into the final day 183 runs ahead on 377 for eight.
Their fighting spirit has left Miller insisting England will not be underestimating Darren Sammy’s emerging team.
“They battled well in the second innings, it was tough at 20-odd for three so they have showed what they can do,” Miller added.
“They have shown they have a pretty good seam attack as well so it’s not going to be plain sailing by any means.
“But we don’t look at it like that, we are just making sure we cover all eventualities which is what we have always done. They are no walkovers the West Indies that is for sure.”