Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bairstow Blasts His Way Into the Reckoning

It may only have been in a warm-up, but Jonny Bairstow's unbeaten 104 from just 54 balls against Hyderabad means omitting him from the first ODI is nigh on impossible. Bairstow's talents are obvious, and it's no longer a case of if or when he gets a regular spot in England's team, more a case of how long he'll be a permanent fixture.

With Bairstow all but nailed on, somebody from the established order is going to have to make way to accomodate him. Assuming England will go in with Cook and Kieswetter opening, with Patel at seven so he can help out with some spin, there are now four potential berths in the England middle order that need filling, with five players vying for them. And arguably, only young pup Jonny Bairstow is guaranteed of his place ahead of the old guard that he's threatening.

The question of who will bat at three is a conundrum of the highest order. With an inhumanly high average, Jonathan Trott must surely be a shoo-in, but doubts over his scoring rate do remain. There is an argument that he could be used as a "horses for courses" batsman in ODIs, just as we see bowlers picked if the pitch suits their strength, we might only see Trott play if the pitch is slow and England need someone to dig in. However, as proved today (where Trott put on 74 from 68 alongside the Bairstow carnage), he isn't as much of a slouch as often thought, and his stability down the other end gives licence to the likes of Bairstow to go big early. For me, Trott should play.

Ravi Bopara is in the form of his life, and finally coming good after so many years of promise. His handy medium pace gives the bowling another option, and dropping him is almost unthinkable.

Which just leaves one place in the middle order, and two very big names fighting over it. Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, mainstays of pretty much every England team over the past six years and amongst the two best batsmen in world cricket, are vying for the one remaining spot. On the face of it it seems very odd, but quite frankly neither have delivered in ODI cricket for a long time. Kevin Pietersen started out by making ODI tons for fun, but hasn't made it to three figures since the last time England toured India, where he captained the side back in 2008. And Ian Bell doesn't even have the luxury of a strong ODI history on his side, with just one solitary ODI century back in 2007, 59 games ago.

Both men have played over 100 ODIs, and both are clearly talented batsmen. But for whatever reason, neither have performed in 50 over cricket for England over the past couple of years, and their places are under threat. It is a toss up as to who gets the nod for this Indian series, but with Eoin Morgan still to return, the emergence of Jonny Bairstow could signal the death knell for both Pietersen and Bell's ODI careers.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, no doubt. It's good to see such a surfeit of young talent in England. Also, this is a signal for the likes of K.P and Bell to buck up and show their worth, which is something I'd dearly love to see, though it seems unfair that batsmen of such caliber should be fighting for a place on the side. However, in a team looking to the future, I'd say - AXE (or gently retire - whichever you prefer) the seniors. Same goes to team India too.