Selector Ed Smith Backs 'Huge Asset' Jonny Bairstow to Make Test Comeback
England's national selector Ed Smith backed Jonny Bairstow to make a comeback to the Test team, after the wicketkeeper-batsman was not picked for the series in New Zealand.
Bairstow managed only 214 runs from 10 innings in the Ashes and lost his spot, with Jos Buttler set to take over as the main keeper. Smith said Bairstow would be an 'asset' once he regained form.
"I remember sitting with Jonny when he'd missed a game in Sri Lanka (in 2018) and I said, 'it won't be long, not because I'm predicting somebody will get dropped but because you're a very good player and very good players come back'. A week later he was raising his bat having scored a Test hundred," Smith told the Sunday Times.
"That will be one way selectors can really contribute to successful teams - thinking about the person and having a strong sense of care, supporting them emotionally and psychologically, so if a crunch point is coming you manage it the best way.
"He's a key player who has played well in all formats. Jonny was selected in 2012 as an outstanding young batsman and since then his first-class average outside Tests is 57. That's how good he is and Jonny at his best would be a huge asset."
Smith said while selection came under his perview, he'd leave the call for picking the final XI to the captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood.
"Chris is very organised and likes to have a clear process that happens every time," he said. "So we will have a call two days out before every Test match between me and Chris, or James (Taylor) and Chris.
"We'll look at the option... if it's these conditions that guy, in those conditions that guy. Two days out you have that discussion, so everyone is in the loop. I'm very comfortable with that.
"If the question is who should have the final say on the final XI, it should be the captain and coach, because you've got to go with what you want. That's as it should be."
Smith also made it clear that resting and rotating players based on workload would be an integral part of selection in the future.
"With the T20s in New Zealand, it wasn't a case of, 'What do you think about resting?' It was, 'You're rested.' It's crucial we attend to players' wellbeing," Smith said. "We're fortunate that Eoin Morgan, having won the World Cup, saw an opportunity to look at new challenges and that we have a lot of depth in white-ball cricket.
"I work closely with people who are intimately involved with the pastoral care of the England team. They respect confidences, however there are times when people have said that this person might benefit from a break. Moving forward, rest and rotation will be a central part of good selection. Players must be well mentally and physically, and capable of performing at their best when we need them to."
"Baseball got there in 1880, football in 1990, rugby in the 2010s, and cricket's moving in that direction. You have a strong core based around a strong leader, but there's got to be room for people taking time out when they need a physical and mental - or technical - recharge. Then there's always a way back."