Sir Geoff Boycott expressed displeasure over England’s treatment of Jonny Bairstow and believes that he, and not Ben Foakes, should be keeping wickets in the second Test in Chennai. Boycott feels England ‘forcefully’ rested Bairstow and termed their treatment of the Yorkshireman as ‘shameful’.
Jonny Bairstow was dropped from the England Test side post Ashes 2019, and, ever since, the wicket-keeper batsman has only been used sparsely in red-ball cricket, mostly as a back-up, with the ECB also choosing to not give him a central red-ball contract. Coach Chris Silverwood and chief-selector Ed Smith made it clear that Bairstow was only seen by the team as a specialist batsman and the right-hander was employed at No.3 in the Sri Lanka series, where he played handy knocks in both the Tests.
It was then announced that the ECB were resting Bairstow for the first-leg of the India Tests and, with Buttler also being rested, it meant that Ben Foakes was elevated to the slot of the first-choice keeper. Foakes, who won the Man of the Series award in his debut series in 2018, is set to keep wickets in the second Test in Chennai, and the same was confirmed by Silverwood.
This has, however, not gone down well with former English cricketer Sir Geoff Boycott. In his column for the Daily Telegraph, Boycott insisted that England ‘should’ have used Bairstow as the second-choice keeper and claimed that the ECB did Bairstow dirty by making him turn down a lucrative BBL deal only to use him as a back-up batsman.
“Jonny Bairstow should be keeping wicket for England in the second Test, not Ben Foakes. I have no problem with Jos Buttler going home for a break. Ed Smith, the chairman of selectors, has promised the players they will be given a break at some point. It is bad enough being cooped up in lockdown at home in Britain let alone being stuck on your own in a hotel room thousands of miles away from his family,” Boycott wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
“So I get Buttler leaving India but it is poor that Bairstow is not replacing him for the second Test. It has to be because Ed wants to see this other kid, Foakes, get a go. Smith clearly does not want Jonny playing as a keeper-batsman.
“I feel for Jonny. He had already signed a good deal to play for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash when he was called up for the Sri Lanka series because England needed another batsman to cover for the injured Ollie Pope. Jonny is not even centrally contracted for Tests anymore yet he gave up his deal and went to Sri Lanka to play two Tests. He would have earned a lot more money in Australia but he wanted to play Test cricket for his country so he dropped out of his Big Bash contract at the last minute.”
Bairstow played as a specialist batsman at No.3 for England in Sri Lanka and impressed, steadying the ship for the side with both the openers unable to buy a run. However, the ECB then announced that they were resting him for the first leg of the India series to manage his workload. Boycott claimed that the ECB forcefully rested Bairstow and insisted that England’s treatment of the flamboyant batsman has been shameful.
“Bairstow was not exactly looking for a rest, it has been forced on him. He would have been queuing up to stay in India and take the gloves. Jonny scored runs in Sri Lanka, he is used to India after two years in the IPL and he has a proven track record.
“He has always said he wants to follow his father as a keeper-batsman. He does not want to be just a specialist batsman but Smith has made that decision and I feel it is unfair. Jonny has missed his opportunity to keep wicket again and England should be ashamed of what they have done to him. It seems as if England bring him in and push him out when it suits them. He must feel like a yo-yo.”
Boycott also reckoned that Bairstow taking the gloves and scoring runs would have created healthy competition within the side between himself and Buttler. Now, in the absence of both Buttler and Bairstow, the legendary batsman feels England have missed the chance to field a full-strength side to go 2-0 up in the series.
“You would think England would welcome competition for places. It is good for the team. If Jonny came in and kept well and scored runs Buttler would realise he has to keep playing well to stay in the side. But no. That chance has gone and England will be weaker at a point when they should pick their best team to go 2-0 up in the series,” the 80-year-old wrote.