Bairstow replaces Ballance in England Ashes squad

Jonny Bairstow

Jonny Bairstow has replaced Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance in a 13-man England
squad for the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston starting on July 29.

England suffered a 405-run thrashing by Australia in the second Test at Lord’s
on Sunday as the tourists levelled the five-match series 1-1.

At Lord’s, England were 29 for three in their first innings and 42 for three
in a humiliating second-innings collapse to 103 all out.

That meant they had now lost their first three wickets for 52 or fewer runs
eight times in seven Tests.

At least one change to the top order was all but inevitable in such circumstances
and number three Ballance, out for 23 and 14 at Lord’s, has been omitted after
making an impressive start to his international career a year ago.

He has struggled for runs throughout this season, managing just 134 runs in
eight Test innings so far.

Bairstow, by contrast, has scored five hundreds in the County Championship
for reigning champions Yorkshire including 139 in their ongoing match against
Worcestershire at Scarborough.

He now has a chance to improve on a Test record that has seen him average a
modest 26.95 in 14 matches, the last against Australia in Sydney last year when
an England defeat meant they suffered a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

Opener Adam Lyth, another Yorkshire batsman, and the experienced Ian Bell,
were also under scrutiny following a run of low scores.

But they have been retained, with England announcing Tuesday that Bell would
be promoted to number three on his Warwickshire home ground, with Joe Root also
going up a place to four.

“For the third Test, Ian Bell will move up the order to bat at three –
followed by Joe Root, with Jonny Bairstow coming in at five, ” said national
selector James Whitaker in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.

“Jonny has worked extremely hard at his game, and his record for Yorkshire
speaks for itself. He fully deserves this opportunity. “

Whitaker added: “Gary was naturally disappointed to miss out on this occasion
however we feel that he will benefit from some time in county cricket to rediscover
his form.

“He has already had plenty of success at international level and as selectors
we are confident Gary will play a significant role for England in the future. “

Although he can keep wicket, it appears Bairstow will play at Edgbaston as
a batsman only, with Jos Buttler retaining his place in the squad.

Bairstow’s previous stints in international cricket have led to questions about
his ability to cope with short-pitched deliveries — something he is sure to
face from Australia’s formidable fast-bowling trio of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell
Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

But Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie, himself a former Australia fast bowler,
insisted Bairstow was now a much-improved batsman.

“Jonny is in a very special place right now, ” Gilespie wrote in his
Guardian column. “His average in the championship this summer has just
tipped past 100 with that innings and, given the opportunity, I know he would
take it with both hands.

“It is important that those people who don’t watch much county cricket
don’t pipe up with opinions based on his past experience in Test cricket because
we’re talking about a different beast right now. “

England third Test squad

Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), Adam Lyth (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire),
Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Nottinghamshire),
Jos Buttler (Somerset, wkt), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire),
Mark Wood (Durham), James Anderson (Lancashire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Steven
Finn (Middlesex)

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