After a stunning 2022, which included six Test centuries, there was never any question over Bairstow regaining his berth in the side. Before breaking his leg in a freak golf accident he batted at number five, as a specialist batsman. But Harry Brook’s remarkable form over the Test winter – four centuries in five matches – means England are keen for him to bat at five this summer.
As Telegraph Sport first revealed, England wanted Bairstow to take the gloves for Yorkshire when he made his first-class return this summer, which he was happy to do. Bairstow has always made his willingness to keep wicket for England in Test matches clear.
His aggressive approach is considered an ideal fit at number seven, especially with concerns over the length of England’s tail, and the possibility that the wicketkeeper might be required to score quick runs before the side are bowled out. Bairstow has also impressed with the gloves in his two County Championship matches for Yorkshire so far this season.
Despite his stellar 2022, Bairstow still averages slightly more when keeping wicket for England than when picked as a specialist batsman – 37.4, rather than 36.6. He last kept wicket for England in 2021, filling in on a one-off basis while Jos Buttler was injured. He stopped being the incumbent keeper after the 2019 Ashes but has kept wicket in 49 Tests.
After England’s last Test, the agonising one-run defeat to New Zealand when Foakes’s second innings 35 almost took hsi side to victory, head coach Brendon McCullum confirmed that Bairstow would return to the side in some capacity.
McCullum said: “What we can’t do is try and crowbar people in,” seemingly ruling Bairstow out of slotting in as opener, where he has never previously batted in Test cricket.