How Jonny Bairstow reacted after being snubbed from England's Test squad for New Zealand series
England signalled 2021-22 Ashes intent on Monday with as many as five changes for the impending New Zealand Test series. While four uncapped players were named in the Test squad, Jonny Bairstow was dropped after a poor summer against Australia in the recently-concluded Ashes series at home. The New Zealand series won't be part of the ongoing ICC World Test Championship but will hold a crucial role in deciding their team for the tour of South Africa in December.
England's Test skipper Joe Root mentioned that the team's preparation for the 2021-22 Ashes series will begin with the two-match Test series against New Zealand and that the decision of dropping Bairstow was the toughest for the selection committee. Meanwhile, batsmen Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley, Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson and his county teammate Saqib Mahmood have all earned their maiden call-up, and Ollie Pope has been recalled.
Ben Foakes too was overlooked by the selectors leaving Jos Buttler to reclaim the position as England's first-choice Test wicketkeeper.
Bairstow was informed about the decision over a phone call by chief selector Ed Smith. It was reported that the wicketkeeper-batsman was shocked and disappointed with the decision as he was all set to travel to New Zealand as their primary choice gloveman, especially after being handed a Test central contract a week before.
With only one fifty-plus score in the Ashes 2019 and a pair in the one-off Ireland series, Bairstow has averaged only 19.25 this summer after an eventful campaign in England's victorious run to maiden World Cup triumph at home.
“Jonny is a very talented cricketer. We believe he has the potential to be a top, top player in Test cricket for England. He has played a lot, in all forms, and it's an opportunity for him to reset and work on one or two things. If I had to give a prediction it would be that he comes back stronger and has a very good England career in Test cricket,” said Smith. “He hasn't been rested. That would be a cop out. However I do see Jonny as being a top batsman, so I would say it's an opportunity to reset and come back.”
Bairstow is slated to meet Smith on Wednesday and discuss his future in the longest format of the game. So far, it is only possible for Bairstow to return as a specialist batsman as Smith hinted towards Buttler being England's primary choice wicketkeeper-batsman for a longer duration.