On his comeback from a fractured leg, Jonny Bairstow scores 97 for Yorkshire’s second XI

On his comeback from a fractured leg, Jonny Bairstow scored 97 runs off 88 balls

Jonny Bairstow produced a hard-hitting innings of 97 from 88 balls for Yorkshire 2nd XI, in his first competitive innings since fracturing his leg last summer, to indicate he is ready to challenge for a place in this summer’s Ashes.

For England’s Test team in the 2022 domestic season, Bairstow, 33, was in the best shape of his life, amassing 681 runs at 75.66 at almost a run per ball, including four hundred and a 71 not out in five straight innings against New Zealand and India to launch the so-called “Bazball” movement.

He was forced to miss England’s victory at the T20 World Cup in Australia, their subsequent Test campaigns in Pakistan and New Zealand due to several fractures he sustained to his left leg in a bizarre golfing accident in September. He also missed the final Test of the summer against South Africa.

He was also scheduled to play for Punjab Kings in the upcoming IPL, but he opted out of that contract to focus on his return to red-ball cricket, which he’s set to step up with a comeback for Yorkshire’s 1st XI in the County Championship against Glamorgan next month.

The fact that Bairstow scored 13 fours and two sixes against Nottinghamshire 2nd XI at Headingley has allayed concerns that his form might suffer due to the lengthy layoff, even if he had previously stated he was healthy and prepared for his return.

There will be tougher tests ahead, but Olly Stone of Nottinghamshire, who played his first first-class game in two years against Hampshire earlier this month, and is increasing his red-ball workload in preparation for a potential Ashes role, was one potential England teammate Bairstow did come up against.

Early in Bairstow’s innings, had Stone worked up a quick pace, he might have had him caught at second slip, but the ball sailed to the boundary instead. 

But he got his comeuppance in his next period when Bairstow sliced a short ball to point in an attempt to reach his comeback hundred. For the duration of the game, Bairstow will keep wicket and field in order to gauge his readiness for both positions. 
Although he called the idea of him taking the gloves for Yorkshire a “non-story” last week, Harry Brook, who was supposed to replace him in the middle order, ended up being the winter’s breakout player with 797 runs at 88.55 in his five Test matches against Pakistan and New Zealand. This suggests that Harry Brook may return to the England team as the wicketkeeper in place of Ben Foakes.