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The Ashes: England set to stick by Bairstow

One of the main talking points coming out of the opening Ashes Test of the series was whether England had made a mistake behind the stumps.

Jonny Bairstow’s performance with the gloves has come under intense scrutiny, as the hosts eventually lost a dramatic clash at Edgbaston by two wickets.

Some pundits had already questioned the omission of Ben Foakes prior to the first Test and a couple of missed opportunities has led to more calls for a change to be made.

WhatSecond Ashes Test
WhereLord's, London
WhenWednesday, 28th June to Sunday, 2nd July
How to watchSky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Cricket
OddsEngland 6/4, Draw 4/1, Australia 6/5

McCullum is happy to have Jonny with the gloves

Although he took nine catches across the two innings, a couple of missed stumpings and three dropped catches put Bairstow under the microscope.

His lack of top-level wicket-keeping experience, coupled with the fact that he only recently returned after injury, will leave many wondering whether he’s been rushed back too soon.

England – who are now 7/2 to win the Ashes series outright - do have a legendary wicket-keeper as their coach though, with Brendon McCullum having played the majority of his 101 Tests behind the stumps.

The former New Zealand international was keen to play down the concerns from outside the squad and seemed to indicate that he is more than happy to stick by Bairstow – who is 25/1 to be named Player of the Series.

McCullum stated: "I thought they were pretty tough mistakes, to be honest. I've kept over here before and it's not the easiest place to keep, and when the ball is spitting and bouncing out of the rough, it can be quite difficult.

"I actually thought Jonny kept really well, right throughout. If you look at the way he progressed throughout the game as well, I think he found a natural rhythm and I thought he did a really good job.”

Runs the key to Bairstow inclusion

It’s no secret that Bairstow’s ability with the bat is the main reason for his inclusion against Australia, highlighted by his display in the first innings at Edgbaston.

The 33-year-old scored at a run-a-ball when smashing 78, which turn out to be the third highest score of the Test and helped get England out of a hole at 176-5.

There’s no doubt that the Yorkshire ace gives England a much longer battling line-up, with Bairstow – who has a Test average of 37.20 with a strike rate of 57.90 – coming in at number seven.

Bairstow’s knock played a part in England taking a lead into the second innings, with the hosts available to back at 1/1 to also claim a first innings lead at Lord’s.

McCullum added: “We know what he offers with the bat. Him coming in at No. 7 is a real weapon for us as well, so I think he'll be better for the run."

The coach has also been keen to state that the aggressive style, nicknamed ‘Bazball’, could be pushed even further at the home of cricket, with McCullum saying his team will “go harder”.

Bairstow could yet prove a key factor in a potential fightback and expected him to step on the gas when he comes to the crease in the second Test, with the wicket-keeper 9/2 to score the most sixes for England at Lord’s.

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