Jonny Bairstow appears poised to return to England’s Test plans on Wednesday when Chris Silverwood, the head coach, names his squad for the start of the five-match series against India.
Bairstow was the incumbent No 3 in the Test side at the end of the 3-1 defeat in India this year – the Yorkshireman’s tour ending with a third duck in four innings – and he missed the 1-0 defeat against New Zealand in June when England opted to rest players who had returned early from the Indian Premier League.
But it appears Bairstow will be back in the squad for the series opener against Virat Kohli’s tourists at Trent Bridge on 4 August after Gary Kirsten, head coach of Welsh Fire in the Hundred, revealed his availability for the new tournament will be cut short by an imminent Test recall.
Speaking to TalkSport on Tuesday, Kirsten said: “We’re hearing that Jonny Bairstow, who we’ve designated as our captain, is now suddenly becoming a Test cricketer again. So we could have him for maybe one or two games.” England had earlier confirmed Test cricketers will be free to play the first two matches for their respective Hundred teams before the squad enters its latest bubble on 31 July, with Silverwood due to unveil his selection on Wednesday afternoon.
If selected, Bairstow would present an option at No 3 given Zak Crawley’s recent run of low scores but also wicketkeeping cover. James Bracey looks unlikely to be retained after a chastening debut series against New Zealand, with Jos Buttler to be restored behind the stumps after missing England’s past five Tests as part of the rotation policy.
Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are similarly expected to return after that break following the Indian Premier League. Ben Stokes could also be back after captaining a reserve one‑day side against Pakistan recently, even though his comeback from finger surgery in April was ahead of schedule, and some discomfort was subsequently reported in the area.
Jofra Archer has been bowling for Sussex in white-ball cricket in the past week but is expected to continue his rehabilitation from an elbow operation in May by playing for Southern Brave in the Hundred. The fast bowler has declared himself to be “a month” away from full fitness.
This would place a potential Test return midway through the India series, although Archer’s centrality to plans for a gruelling four-month winter trying to both win the T20 World Cup and regain the Ashes should lead to a cautious path being taken.
With Olly Stone now out for the summer with a stress fracture, Mark Wood is expected to offer the captain, Joe Root, a pace option for start of the upcoming series.