Former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior has urged Jonny Bairstow not to rush back from the injury that forced him out of the first Test against Sri Lanka. Bairstow, England’s first choice wicketkeeper, watched on as his replacement, Surrey’s Ben Foakes, became only the second English wicketkeeper to score a century on Test debut. Prior, back in 2007, was the first.
Bairstow missed the final two of the five ODIs against Sri Lanka in October after going over on his right ankle during a game of football in training. Foakes was called up as the reserve ‘keeper as Bairstow began his recovery. Though he was ruled out of the Test match in Galle, he is making steady progress to be fit for the second game in Kandy, which starts on November 14.
While Bairstow is itching to return to action, not least to reclaim his place behind the stumps which he has worked long and hard to call his own, Prior, who is out in Sri Lanka commentating for talkSPORT 2, believes the 29-year-old should err on the side of caution. He said as much to Bairstow on day one when the pair chatted on the field before the toss.
“The injury he (Bairstow) has, you don’t want to rush back,” said Prior. “Because you can create a lot more hassle. If he’s going to keep, it’s not so much the forward and back and linear movement, it’s going to be the sideways that’s going to be an issue.
“If you try and keep wicket over here, in these conditions, that are very, very physically demanding, half-injured or with a slight injury, you’re going to under-perform and you’re not [just] going to let yourself down but you’re going to let the team down as well.”
If there is one man who can empathise with Bairstow and his desperation to get back playing, it is Prior. In 2014, the veteran of 79 Tests lost his place in the England side to Jos Buttler after desperately trying to overcome the Achilles issue that would eventually see him retire a year later.
He had struggled with the chronic injury through the 2013/14 Ashes and pushed himself to play throughout the 2014 summer. However, after two poor Tests against India, in which his batting and ‘keeping was well below his usual standards, he had to cede defeat. Jos Buttler came in for the third Test and, despite having surgery on his Achilles tendon in 2014, Prior never played again.
“I’ve learned from experience and unfortunately I couldn’t come back from it. There is the bravado of ‘oh I’m playing for my country, they’re going to have to wheel me off’. It doesn’t get you very far. You’d rather go away, give yourself that extra week to come back fully fit so that you can perform. Not only for yourself but for your team, at 100%.”
It looks likely to be the case that not only will Bairstow be fit, but Foakes, after his immaculate 107 helped England to a first innings of 342, will retain the gloves. Foakes did not have to wait long for his first Test dismissal, either, as James Anderson drew an edge from opener Dimuth Karunaratne with the second ball of the Sri Lanka first innings. His second was an immaculate stumping off Adil Rashid to remove opposition skipper Dinesh Chandimal for 33 and reduce the hosts to 115 for five.
However, were England to win this match and believe they have stumbled upon the right balance of side, then it is a possibility that Bairstow may not find a way back in for the second Test, even as a batsman only. That, Prior believes, should not be the case. The Yorkshireman, while possessing a career average of just 37, has averaged 42 since the start of 2016 and has scored all five of his hundreds in that time.
“I think it would be harsh. We’re very quick to forget Jonny has been one of England’s standout performers over the last couple of years. He’s a phenomenal talent and I don’t think we want to look a gift horse in the mouth, quite frankly. Jonny, fully fit, would have played this Test match, probably would have performed well, done well with the gloves and scored runs and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“You want to just remember what a good player Jonny Bairstow is. And if he is fully fit, then he should come back int the team, for me. Whether he keeps wicket, that’s a whole other conversation. Who knows. That will be based on the balance of the team, which allrounders, you’ve got to look at the wicket. Kandy apparently is going to go through a bit more: does Broad come back in? You’ve got to look at the balance of the team and see how everyone fits it.”
While England are spoiled for wicketkeeping riches with Bairstow, Buttler and now Foakes – “They’re all international standard wicketkeepers,” believes Prior – it is a situation they need to manage well. Foakes, particularly up to the stumps, is the superior operator, which is vital in Asian conditions.
But alternating between them could cause problems. And the first of those will be how to ensure all parties are treated with due respect. Another issue, Prior feels, is that the England management now have another selection matter to tend to when there are other areas, such as the top-order, to address.
“Ben Foakes, to walk out 100-5 and play in foreign conditions in Sri Lanka, with all the challenges that come with that, is just a huge, huge effort. What we don’t want to do is create an issue where there actually isn’t one, just because Ben Foakes has not come in and done really well.
“That’s where I was slightly surprised. There are other areas in this England cricket team that really need work on and now we’re having a discussion over the one area that was actually pretty solid in Buttler and Bairstow. I think our focus should be on our top four and making sure they start performing and getting some runs on the board.
“We’re never going to consistently win Test matches and get this England Test team to the level that we want to be at if we’re 20-2 every single innings. The other issues need to be focussed on and this issue papers over the cracks.”
ICC World Cup 2019: Team India to don new jersey for away matches
The hype surrounding the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales is on an escalation with the tournament only a week away. The mega event is scheduled to get underway on May 30 and Team India is deemed as one of the favourites to get their hands on the coveted trophy. All the teams wear special kits for the World Cup and the Indian team also had unveiled their jersey for the tournament, however, there’s an addition to it.
As per the ICC’s World Cup schedule, the teams have home and away matches. The Men in Blue will not actually be completely Blue when they play those away games. The Indian team will play with a new and differently coloured clothing for all the away matches in the tournament. Their first match is against South Africa on June 5 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.
Their away matches are versus Afghanistan on June 22 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton and versus hosts England on June 30 at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. As many as four teams- England, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan- have blue as their preferred colour. However, since England are the hosts, the other teams will have to change their colours when they lock horns with the Eoin Morgan-led Brits.
Different outfits for Team India
India’s jersey is yet to be released and will see the players wear a darker blue in the front, whereas orange will dominate the sleeves as well as the back.
On the other hand, teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa have a common colour – green jerseys. As a result, these teams will also need to look for alternatives for a few matches in the tournament. Australia, Windies and New Zealand should not have to change the colours since they already having distinct jerseys.
The opening match of the World Cup will be played between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval in London. Apart from India, England are also on the expected winner’s list for the 50-overs tournament as they are ICC’s number-one ranked ODI team at the moment.
ICC World Cup 2019: Sachin Tendulkar picks his semi-finalists ahead of WC
Legendary India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has given his opinion into which four teams he feels will enter the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2019 which is scheduled to be played between May 30 and July 14 in England and Wales.
“India, England, Australia should be in the semis. The fourth could be one of New Zealand or Pakistan,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo. ((Complete coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019))
Earlier, speaking to Hindustan Times, Tendulkar had said India have a well-balanced squad and they are capable of pulling off something special in UK.
“We have a balanced team which can go out and do something special. The whole team has to chip in, there will be some performers (in different situations, who must say) ‘this is my game; I am batting well or bowling well’. Support is needed from the other end also,” the Master Blaster said.
Tendulkar also heaped praise on wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he has a big role to play for Team India.
“Not only in batting, also behind the stumps. He has got the best view; the batters are always looking for the gaps and what areas to target. Standing behind the batsmen, he can see that. He has plenty of suggestions to make and that would come in handy,” Tendulkar said.
“His contribution will be in the form of an experienced keeper observing the game and making suggestions. Also, his experience while batting—how to play those critical moments, how to rotate the strike, when to strike, and when to just build a partnership—will count.”
The first match of the World Cup will be played between England and South Africa on May 30 while India open their campaign against South Africa on June 5.
Before that, the ‘Blue Brigade’ will take on New Zealand and Bangaldesh in two practice matches on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
India’s 15-member squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.
Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list
Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.
Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.
In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.
Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.
Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.
Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.
They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.
West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.
Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.
Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.