Former England captain Nasser Hussain has admitted that the fourth Ashes 2023 Test at Old Trafford in Manchester will be a big game for struggling keeper-batter Jonny Bairstow. Stating that Bairstow looked a “bit scrambled” in the third Test at Headingley, Hussain added that the 10-day break between the third and fourth Test was a much-needed one for him.
Bairstow began his Ashes 2023 campaign with a brisk 78 in the first innings of the opening Test at Edgbaston. However, he registered a highest score of 20 in his subsequent five innings. He has also struggled with the gloves, dropping a number of catches.
Despite his woes, he has been retained in the playing XI for the fourth Ashes 2023 Test, which begins at Old Trafford in Manchester on Wednesday, July 19. In his column for The Daily Mail, Hussain opined that the Test will be extremely crucial for Bairstow.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that it is a big game for Bairstow. It is right that England have stuck with him, and he often responds when he has a point to prove,” he wrote.
Asserting that the break would have helped the batter, he added that Bairstow looked out of shape at Headingley.
“The 10-day break will have done him a lot of good, because he looked a bit scrambled at Headingley. When he was batting, his bottom hand started coming through a bit strongly because he was tense, and he left a catch to Harry Brook at short leg that he would normally have gone for. That told me his confidence was a bit low.”
Urging Bairstow to be positive, the 55-year-old continued:
“Jonny is at his best when he’s being positive, with both bat and gloves. He has to go for every catch and bat with an attacking mindset. He’s the kind of guy who reads everything and loves proving people wrong. England will be stronger if he’s firing on all cylinders.”
Bairstow, 33, is a veteran of 93 Test matches in which he has scored 5623 runs at an average of 36.51, with 12 hundreds.
“Stokes has set an example that others might like to follow” – Hussain
In his column, Hussain also praised England captain Ben Stokes for leading from the front and reading game situations really well. He pointed out the fact that, amid all the ‘Bazball’ talk, Stokes batted with caution when needed and urged other England batters to take a cue from their leader.
“At Lord’s and Headingley, he reined himself in for a while, then played his shots – they were two perfect examples of reading the situation. England have spent a year establishing this mindset and it has generally served them well. But Stokes has shown there is room for caution too.”
Stokes is the second-leading run-getter in Ashes 2023, having scored 309 runs at an average of 51.50.