England coach Trevor Bayliss wants Jonny Bairstow to abandon his wicketkeeping role and concentrate on being a Test batsman.
A fractured finger means Bairstow will definitely hand his role behind the stumps to Jos Buttler for the fourth Test starting in Southampton next week. Though James Vince has been called up as cover, he expects to be fit enough to bat in the crucial match after India pegged the series back to 2-1 with two to play.
But Bayliss knows making this a permanent change will be easier said than done, with the flame-haired Bairstow desperate to hold on to his dual role in the side as keeper-batsman.
“That’ll be the hard thing — trying to convince Jonny,” he admitted. “That will be a decision that is taken from the team point of view. He is a world-class batter, we know that, but one of the difficult things might be convincing Jonny of that.
“If that was the way we went, it would certainly be a deep conversation with someone like that, but Jonny’s a reasonable bloke. He might fear it would affect his batting, but that’s certainly not our fear.
“In the long run, he wants to play Test cricket. We know he wants to keep but there would be a lot of explaining and chatting.”
In the past, Bairstow given any suggestion the gloves might be taken away a frosty response.
There are no complaints about his keeping, but England believe it is no coincidence that each of his five Test hundreds have been scored before he has done any wicket-keeping in the match.
In contrast, Buttler’s maiden ton in the third Test defeat last week came as he batted like a dream after wearing the gloves for 66 overs.
England’s brittle batting line-up needs the best of Bairstow and he could even slot in at number four, allowing young Ollie Pope to bat a more familiar sixth behind Ben Stokes.
“I think Jonny has improved his keeping over the last couple of years from where he was,” added Bayliss.
“He’s done some hard work and Jos will have to do some hard work as well.
“Keeping 100 overs-a-day can be difficult, day after day, Test after Test.
“Ollie has batted no higher than six for Surrey, so it was a big ask to come into international cricket and bat four. But the short times he’s been at the crease suggest that he might be a good international cricketer.
“We would have probably liked to have started him off down a bit lower but the hole was at No.4.
“Obviously, Jonny is an option there as well, which might allow Ollie to drop a little lower.”
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