England vs India 2018: England hopeful of playing Jonny Bairstow as a specialist batsman in the fourth Test
England head coach Trevor Bayliss has offered an update on the status of Jonny Bairstow's finger injury. The team's medical staff are hopeful of the 28-year old playing as a specialist batsman in the crucial fourth Test against India at Southampton.
Bairstow's injury should pave the way for Jos Buttler to take up the role of wicket-keeper at the Rose Bowl. Beyond the next Test, the team management are also mulling the option of removing the keeping gloves from the dynamic Yorkshireman in a bid to maximise his batting potential.
Bayliss conceded, "I think keeping in the next game will probably be the most difficult (for Bairstow]. We've got to check with the medical guys in the next few days. They are suggesting he may not be able to keep but might be able to bat. We'll have to see how it responds. If that gives someone else another opportunity - it's like any injury - if someone comes in and does well, then you have a decision to make."
During the opening session of the third day's play at Trent Bridge, Bairstow injured the middle finger of his left hand whilst gathering a sharp in-swinger from James Anderson. Writhing in pain before covering the injured hand with his cap, he left the field for further examination.
Subsequent scans revealed that Bairstow had fractured his finger. In the meantime, Buttler donned the wicket-keeping gloves for the latter half of India's second innings. With the Lancashire star showing his red-ball mettle by scoring a defiant century, all signs are pointing in the direction of him taking up the keeping gloves on a long-term basis from his teammate.
Bayliss alluded to Bairstow's reluctance in giving up the keeping gloves before indicating that the team management has begun looking at other contenders for the role.
There is a growing consensus that the right-hander's batting ability has been hampered by the additional burden of having to stand behind the stumps as well.
Bayliss affirmed, "That'll be the hard thing, trying to convince Jonny. That will be a decision that is taken from the team point of view. He is a world-class batter, we know that one of the difficult things might be convincing Jonny of that. He's aware of that. He's done some hard work. Jos will have to do some hard work as well. He's been keeping a lot in one-day cricket but keeping 100 overs-a-day can be difficult, day after day, Test after Test. There are other options out there as well."
The fourth Test between England and India will begin on the 30th.
Should Bairstow's finger injury not heal enough for him to play even as a specialist batsman, the hosts have the option of picking either James Vince or Moeen Ali in the middle-order.