Bairstow to join after second Test against India, ECB clarifies
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has clarified that wicket-keeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow will join the squad only after the second Test against India. Earlier, England's batting coach Graham Thorpe stated that the 31-year-old will link-up with the rest of squad post the series opener. Notably, the decision to rest Bairstow for the first two Tests has drawn criticism from former players.
Thorpe, during an interaction with the media on Friday, said that Bairstow will be joining the team after the first Test. However, clarifying the same, the ECB in a statement said, "To clarify, the plan is still for Jonny Bairstow to return for the third and fourth Test and not the second Test. Along with Sam Curran and Mark Wood."
England's decision to rest Bairstow for the first two Tests as a part of rotation system didn't go down well with several former players. Rightly so, he turned out to be England's second-highest run-scorer after Joe Root in the SL Test series, which they won 2-0. He racked up 139 runs from four Test innings at an impressive average of 46.33.
Former captain Nasser Hussain said that England have to play their best XI against India. "They are a tough side. I think (Virat) Kohli has instilled that. Make no mistake, at home, they are a formidable outfit. I've always seen this as one of the great series. All I would have asked is turn up to Chennai with your best 13-15 players," stated Hussain.
The England management have been using the "rotation policy" in the international assignments post the COVID-enforced break. Notably, the particular approach is being adopted to maintain the workload of players, who returned to action after a long break.
Despite constant criticism, England head coach Chris Silverwood has defended the decision of resting players. "I'm perfectly happy with the system we're using at the moment. I stand by it," he had told reporters. "We've got to look after our people. We're spending a lot of time locked in hotel rooms inside bio-secure bubbles and it's not easy."
Earlier this month, England had announced a 16-member squad for the first two Tests, along with reserves. Squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes. Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi