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York’s Jonny Bairstow looks set for England’s Boxing Day Ashes Test
Jason Gillespie expects York’s Jonny Bairstow to get a bonus Christmas present in the form of the gloves for England’s Boxing Day Test against Australia.
With England 3-0 down against a rampant Australia and the Ashes already gone, there are calls for changes to be made for the fourth Test at Melbourne’s MCG – one of the biggest dates on the calendar with a 100,000 sellout on the first day at least.
England’s long-term wicketkeeper Matt Prior is one of those under pressure mainly due to a horrid run of form with the bat that dates back to the start of the home series against New Zealand in May.
In his last 19 Test innings, the Sussex man has only scored one half-century with five ducks.
Yorkshire’s first-team coach Gillespie also believes Prior’s glovework has started to suffer.
The former Australian fast bowler has watched a lot of Ashes cricket this winter as part of his role as a popular panelist on Sky Sports’ review show The Verdict each night of a Test match.
“I think he might play at Melbourne. My gut feel is that Jonny’s going to play and they’ll give him a good, long run as ’keeper,” he said.
“I think they’re leaning towards (Jos) Buttler for limited overs cricket as a ’keeper/batsman, but I definitely think they’re leaning towards Jonny long-term in the Test team to bat at seven and keep.
“If conditions dictate, he could also bat six and keep. I think they’d prefer him to bat seven though.
“When he plays for us, he’ll slot in at five where he normally does – that will be no different.”
But, at the age of 24 and with very little experience as an international wicketkeeper under his belt, is he ready for that role?
“It’s a good question. I think he’s on par if not maybe a little bit more developed as a ’keeper than Prior was when he was picked for the Test side,” said Gillespie.
“Through sheer will and hard work, Prior’s turned himself into a fine Test ’keeper. But he’s just dropped off a little bit now. I can see Jonny going that way.
“Right now, I think he’s still developing his ’keeping. What’s really pleasing is that he’s putting the time and effort in. They want a wicketkeeper who can have a big impact with the bat, and that’s certainly what Jonny can do.
“He works with Bruce French on his ’keeping a lot, and he certainly won’t let anyone down behind the sticks. But he’ll be the first to admit that he’s got a long way to go even though he’s coming along.”
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