JASON GILLESPIE: England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler is a ripping bloke and a real leader in the dressing room… but Jonny Bairstow delivers best when he’s given the gloves
- You get the most out of Jonny Bairstow when you select him behind the stumps
- It is another debate entirely whether he is the best gloveman in England
- Jos Buttler is amazing but has been picked on his one-day and Twenty20 form
- From my experience of working with Bairstow, he is searching for a bit of love
It is a long-held belief of mine that you get the most out of Jonny Bairstow when you select him behind the stumps — and statistics comprehensively back this up.
In 49 Tests as a wicketkeeper, he averages 37.37 with the bat. As a frontline batter that mark was 27.12 before this match. His innings of 113 in Sydney was only the second time he’d scored a hundred in 31 appearances without the gloves.
It is another debate entirely whether he is the best gloveman in England of the best candidates for the job, but the numbers do not lie.
You get the most out of Jonny Bairstow when you select him behind the stumps
His 113 in Sydney was only the second time he’d scored a hundred without the gloves
In recent times, England have opted for Jos Buttler. He is an amazing cricketer, yet it must be said that he has been picked on his one-day and Twenty20 form.
As a coach, I accept that — it’s the prerogative of selectors to choose teams as they see fit. Equally, there’s no doubt that England will look at all their selections after this Ashes series and review them.
There is a reason why they have given Buttler this long run in the side. He obviously brings something non-statistics based to the table that England covet. From all accounts, he is a ripping bloke and a real leader in the dressing room.
There are clearly people within the England set-up that have put this argument forward because the statistical evidence suggests that Bairstow is the better option.
Jos Buttler (left) is a ripping bloke and a real leader in Joe Root’s dressing room
It is my opinion that he has always been at his best when he’s got the gloves. And from my experience of working with him at Yorkshire, Jonny is always searching for a bit of love.
He’s the type of guy who’s not everyone’s cup of tea — and that’s cool, not everyone is, including me — and someone always looking for a bit of acceptance within a group environment. He just wants to be part of things, one of the lads.
And he has spent most of his international career searching for further acceptance — that he can fulfil a role in the England Test team.
Jonny is a very good player, you only need look at his one-day stats, which are quite extraordinary. He and Jason Roy will go down as the best openers England have ever produced in ODIs.
Bairstow and Jason Roy will go down as the best openers England have ever produced in ODIs
But in Test cricket, he’s continually had his role redefined: batting higher, batting lower, gloves on, gloves off. This week, we have seen exactly what he is capable of. Remember, he came in at 36 for four.
That’s a tough time to walk to the crease — the team hasn’t performed all series, you are 3-0 down, staring down the barrel again and the crowd is getting stuck into you.
To come out and play an innings like that showed a lot of character, and the same can be said for Ben Stokes. The Australian set-up rate both players extremely highly, meaning theirs are prized wickets.
What I must add is that despite the scores, England have shown resilience not visible in this series. They are getting nailed left, right and centre for their performances but no team in international cricket has played as much in the pandemic, and we must empathise with what they have gone through.
Bairstow showed a lot of character with his century, and the same can be said for Ben Stokes
Living in bio-secure or restricted environments has its effects and difficulties are compounded when you are beaten on the field. It should not be forgotten then that while there is a financial element to keeping matches on, there is also an element of players committing to provide entertainment at this time.
Domestically with the Big Bash in Australia, we are doing all we can to keep the competition on and have moved to one hub in Melbourne. We are living in hotel rooms with contact outside games and training removed and that is not easy.
Ask anyone involved in professional cricket in the past two years and they will have empathy for what England have been through.
Yes, as a former player and proud Australian I like seeing Australia dominating but as a cricket person you must accept how difficult it can be behind the scenes.