Chris Tremlett: Jonny Bairstow not being first choice for Champions Trophy is hard but fair

 
Chris Tremlett
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England v Ireland - Royal London ODI
Bairstow scored 72 not out for England against Ireland at Lord's on Sunday (Source: Getty)

He may be in stunning form with the bat but I agree with skipper Eoin Morgan when he says there is unlikely to be room for Jonny Bairstow in England’s strongest XI for next month’s Champions Trophy.

Bairstow is flying. He scored a pulsating 72 not out against Ireland at Lord’s on Sunday, which followed a knock of 174 for Yorkshire in the One-Day Cup last week. His red-ball returns have also been highly impressive for some time now.

But Morgan is right not to rejig the line-up to shoehorn in the 27-year-old. England have been guilty of making last-minute alterations to seemingly fixed plans before major tournaments in the past, with limited or no success.

The top six of England's batting order has been settled for a while and they appear happy with the balance of the side which that consistency of selection brings. That stability is also a reflection of how well England have done in white-ball cricket over the last 18 months.

Selectors have given players who may have suffered a dip the opportunity to rediscover their form, and the team is all the better for that. It’s unfortunate for Bairstow but that’s just the way it is.

Frustrating

All it takes is a finger injury in the nets or England to choose to play an extra batsman against certain opponents and Bairstow will be straight in that team. I can, however, appreciate how frustrating it must be for the Bradford-born right-hander to hear that despite his numbers over recent times he’s not going to be first choice.

I remember being in England squads during the early part of my career when I was next in line and was waiting ages to play. I must have been carrying drinks for more than a year when Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad and James Anderson were the first choice seamers in the Test side.

It’s disheartening when you’re on the sidelines despite knowing you’re good enough to play, and Bairstow is certainly in that category. But it’s also good to know there is a pecking order and the players that are selected have earned their places.

International quality

Two years ago at the World Cup, Bairstow’s Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance was suddenly promoted to No3 instead of James Taylor for no apparent reason. England’s consistency of selection has, thankfully, been far better in recent years and that helps everyone.

Joe Root, meanwhile, has this week indicated that he feels he has the skills to fulfil the role of England’s second spinner. He took three wickets against Ireland on Sunday, although I’m not sure that’s a true test of international quality.

He’s certainly more suited to being a second spinner in one-day cricket than Test. He bowls the ball quite flat and can vary his pace pretty well.

If there is a bit more green on a wicket at the Champions Trophy and England choose to play an extra seamer, leave out a frontline spinner and utilise Root, I do think he can perform that role.

The Champions Trophy might be a bit too soon for him to feel completely comfortable as the second spinning option but sometimes you have to take a risk and be flexible.

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