Alastair Cook backs Jonny Bairstow to rediscover Test form


Jonny Bairstow will be back in England’s Test team sooner than later, according to Alastair Cook. 

The Yorkshire batsman was dropped for the two-Test series against New Zealand, which begins later this month, after a poor run of form with the bat.

Bairstow has since been called up as cover for Joe Denly, who twisted his right ankle last week, and Cook believes he will grasp the opportunity to prove himself again. 

Alastair Cook has backed wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to rediscover his form in Test cricket

 Alastair Cook has backed wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to rediscover his form in Test cricket

Cook believes that Bairstow will be eager to take his chance to prove someone wrong

 Cook believes that Bairstow will be eager to take his chance to prove someone wrong

‘He’s going through one of those periods which you do as a player. Some stuff sneaks into your game, into your technique after playing so much cricket, which you don’t like’, he told Sportsmail.

‘I know Jonny pretty well, every time there’s a chance to prove someone wrong, like his hundred in Sri Lanka, he’ll be on it. 

‘It’s a good time for him to work on his game. Everyone can see when you get bowled as many times as he has been, it’s obvious there’s not something quite right there. 

‘He knows that, he’s an experienced and very good cricketer. He’ll be working as hard as anyone to do it. These are the little stages you get in your career, it’s not all plain sailing. 

‘One moment you’re winning the World Cup and six months down the line it is tougher. It’s how you deal with that and how you bounce back.’

Bairstow’s decline in the red ball game has been alarming, he has gone from averaging 59 in 2016 to just 20 this year, and has been bowled 15 times in his last 39 innings.

Bairstow was initially dropped or the two-match Test series against New Zealand

Bairstow was initially dropped or the two-match Test series against New Zealand

He has since been recalled with England sweating over the fitness of Joe Denly

He has since been recalled with England sweating over the fitness of Joe Denly 

Cook says Bairstow has struggled with the ‘incredibly difficult’ transition from white ball game

Cook believes it is a technical flaw that has crept into his game from his success as a one-day opener, a transition he concedes is ‘incredibly hard’.

‘Bowlers become more aware of it’, he insists. ‘In the one dayers, going out at the top of the order, he stands a little leg side to free up the off side. It’s been very successful for him in his one-day career. It just sneaks in a little bit to his Test game. ‘

‘He’ll be aware of it a lot more. When you get a clean break you’re back to working on it. I have no doubt Jonny Bairstow will be back.

The series in New Zealand will be Chris Silverwood’s first since taking over the reins from Trevor Bayliss. Cook worked under the former fast bowler when he was in charge of Essex and led them to the County Championship title in 2017.

He believes his hands-on approach will help get the best out of Joe Root’s captaincy.

‘I think Joe is definitely the right man to lead England forward. From my experience of it it took me two or three years to really feel comfortable in that role’, he says.

‘We’re getting to that stage with Rooty now, I think Silverwood will be good for him. 

‘He’ll take a lot of the off-field stuff away from him, working with Trevor he was very hands off, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Joe wants that support I think. The Silverwood route will work well for him.’

Cook gave his backing to Chris Silverwood, who he worked under when was in charge of Essex

Cook gave his backing to Chris Silverwood, who he worked under when was in charge of Essex

Root looks set to drop back down to No 4 in the order, depending on Denly’s fitness, but Cook isn’t overly concerned by where his successor bats.

‘I thought in that Ashes he should have batted at three. It was the right decision for him to step up’, he continues.

‘But now with the side they’re picking and the top three that will accumulate and bat time then 4, 5, 6 can be more aggressive players. 

‘That will suit Joe Root down to the ground. We’re nitpicking a little bit with Joe Root, the bloke averages nearly 50 in Test cricket in English conditions and has scored 7,000 runs. 

‘He’s one of England’s greatest ever batters. He will score runs wherever he bats. It’s the easy thing when you have a summer at three and don’t score the runs you want to go and bat at four. 

Cook is adamant Joe Root's captaincy will benefit from the hands-on approach of Silverwood

Cook is adamant Joe Root’s captaincy will benefit from the hands-on approach of Silverwood

‘Over a long period of time I still think Joe would score pretty much the same number of runs wherever he bats. But he’ll feel more comfortable there.’

England will benefit from a ‘simple’ plan under Silverwood, but Cook doesn’t believe there will be a radical change in England’s approach to the longer form of the game. 

‘Knowing Chris Silverwood like I do having played under him at Essex, he’ll be very simple with his game plan and what he expects from the players. 

‘I’m expecting quite a clear top three, guys who can bat time. Not worried about how quickly you score, lay the platform, and being very clear on that.

‘Chris Silverwood is simple in what he demands of the players. There’ll be no mixed messages at all. He’s inherited a good side with a lot of potential, who have played some brilliant cricket without getting that consistency over the last few years.’

Cook is speaking as part of the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery, highlighting the role the initiative has played in the grassroots of the game by ploughing £5.7billion into it.

‘The 2005 Ashes had such an impact on the game. It’s about the 2019 legacy now. 7,000 signed up for the All Stars a week after the Ben Stokes hundred, you can see the impact that has. 

Cook talks to Jonathan Agnew during his stint in the TMS commentary box in the summer

Cook talks to Jonathan Agnew during his stint in the TMS commentary box in the summer

Cook poses with the County Championship title after Essex sealed the title in September

Cook poses with the County Championship title after Essex sealed the title in September

‘The Hundred is going to be on free-to-air TV, we saw the impact of that with the Cricket World Cup final. It’s an amazing time for cricket. 

There are opportunities for kids to go and play cricket at their clubs. Two days after Ben Stokes’ hundred a waiter came up to me in the restaurant and they said, “I love cricket now. I’ve never watched it before but now I know what a super over is”. That’s the power of free-to-air TV and success.

‘The lottery funding has had a massive impact, helping set up 100,000 grassroot projects across the UK. Without that and the government scheme facilities wouldn’t be as good as they are. We can always do more but it’s important to recognise what a support they’ve been for sport in our country and long may it continue.’

Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25 



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