England bring in Bairstow for Ballance

2015-07-21 19:40
Jonny Bairstow (AP Photo)

London - Jonny Bairstow has replaced Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance in a 13-man England squad announced on Tuesday 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 humiliating second-innings collapse to 103 all out saw them lose their first three wickets for 52 or fewer runs for the eighth time 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.

The left-hander did make a valuable 61 in the first innings of the first Ashes Test in Cardiff, helping Joe Root, another Yorkshire colleague, add 163 after England had slumped to 43 for three in a match their side won by 169 runs to go 1-0 up.

However, that was the only occasion in his last 10 Test innings that the 25-year-old Ballance, who made a promising start to his England career, has reached 30.

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

He also made a match and series-winning 83 not out for England when called up in place of the injured Jos Buttler for the final one-day international against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street last month.

"Jonny has worked extremely hard at his game, and his record for Yorkshire speaks for itself. He fully deserves this opportunity," said national selector James Whitaker in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.

"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."

Bairstow, the son of late former England wicketkeeper David Bairstow, has a chance to improve on a modest Test average of 26.95 in 14 matches, the last against Australia in Sydney in 2014 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.

Lyth, who made his Test debut in the preceding 1-1 drawn series with New Zealand, has been out for three single-figure scores in four Ashes innings.

Meanwhile Bell has only passed 30 once in his last 12 Test innings.

But they have been retained, with Whitaker announcing that Bell would be promoted to number three on his Warwickshire home ground, with Root also going up a place to four and Bairstow batting at number five.

Bairstow's previous stints in international cricket have seen questions raised over his ability to play short-pitched bowling - something he is sure to face from the likes of Australia's Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

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

"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," Gillespie wrote in his Guardian column.

Bairstow's selection instead of Ballance was the only change to a squad where leg-spinner Adil Rashid and paceman Steven Finn remain the back-up bowlers.

Whitaker hopes England, in their first series under new Australian coach Trevor Bayliss, will be able to regroup.

"The break before the third Test will give the squad time to reflect on the series so far and a chance to focus on playing the positive, confident cricket we saw in Cardiff."

England third Test squad

Alastair Cook (Essex, captain), 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)

Read more on:    england  |  ashes  |  jonny bairstow  |  cricket

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