LONDON: Jonny Bairstow hopes to be fit for England’s opening Test of the summer against Ireland in June, according to Yorkshire head coach Ottis Gibson.
Bairstow’s form last year came to an abrupt end when a freak accident on the golf course in September left him with three separate fractures in his left fibula, as well as a dislocated ankle and ligament injuries.
The 33-year-old had an operation to insert a metal plate and recently withdrew from the Indian Premier League as he stepped up his rehabilitation.
Gibson said Bairstow expects to be sidelined for another two months, but has his sights set on featuring in a Test for the first time in nine months when England host Ireland at Lord’s on June 1.
That match will serve as a tune-up for the hotly-anticipated Ashes series against Australia.
With the Ashes in mind, Bairstow would ideally make his first-class comeback in Yorkshire’s County Championship matches against Glamorgan and Durham starting on May 4 and May 11.
“I’ve had a conversation with him and the medical team, who’ve done a great job, they think by the end of May he should be in position to play cricket,” Gibson said.
“He should be available to play games by the middle to end of May. He’s had a horrific injury but he’s tracking well. He’s running up and down and he can run in straight lines, but he’s not doing much lateral stuff yet.
“The medical team will let us know how far along he is but he is expecting, when I’ve spoken to him, to be in a position to play in England’s first Test. That’s what he is aiming for.”
Bairstow has indicated he would like to resume wicket-keeping duties when he returns for Yorkshire, giving him another route back into the England side.
His sensational run of Test form last year, when he smashed four brilliant centuries, came as a specialist batter, but fellow Yorkshireman Harry Brook has excelled at number five since stepping up in Bairstow’s absence over the winter.
“Part of the job in county cricket is to prepare players for England. If England put in a request then we’d be crazy not to accommodate them, especially in an Ashes year,” Gibson said.
“We will certainly try to accommodate that request, if and when it comes.”
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2023
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