Watch the second Test between Sri Lanka and England, in Kandy, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Wednesday
By Alex Brodie
Last Updated: 12/11/18 10:50am
Jonny Bairstow missed England’s comprehensive win over Sri Lanka – their first away Test victory in two years – with an ankle injury, but should the wicketkeeper be brought back for the second match in Kandy?
If the England selectors are to change a winning side to incorporate the 29-year-old then the biggest issue will be who makes way.
Ben Foakes was brought in to replace Bairstow behind the stumps and did not concede an extra in either innings. Rory Burns was making his debut so could be excused a nervy start while Moeen Ali topped the bowling figures as England’s decision to go with three spinners paid off.
Finding a spot for Bairstow’s return will not be easy.
You can tell us what you think by taking part in our vote below.
Returns as wicket-keeper?
Surrey’s Ben Foakes replaced Bairstow behind the stumps and was named man of the match after scoring a vital first-innings ton and coping well with the intensity of glovework in the sub-continent. Taking the 25-yeard-old out of the side after such a performance would seem harsh.
Bairstow has spoken previously about his determination to remain the first-choice keeper, but Foakes showed in Galle he is a more-than-adequate replacement. Alec Stewart believes Bairstow may need to re-evaluate his position.
“Jonny has to accept that until Foakes gets injured or messes up that he is the back-up wicketkeeper-batsman,” Stewart told Sky Sports. “He’s now going to have to think as a frontline batter.”
Brought in as an opener?
Rory Burns failed to score big on his Test debut in Galle at the top of the order with nine in the first innings before running himself out in the second having scored 23.
Replacing Alastair Cook will be a long-term challenge for England and dropping the County Championship’s leading run-scorer after one game to bring back Bairstow could be counter-productive.
His opening partner, Keaton Jennings, thrived facing spin in Galle and being the senior partner appeared to suit him. Shaking things up now could knock his confidence just when he has shown form.
Batting at No 3?
Moeen Ali was England’s leading wicket-taker in both innings in Galle, taking eight scalps in total as the visitors’ three spinners controlled the game. But having been promoted to No 3 during the India series, he has only a half-century at The Oval to write home about. He recorded a first-ball duck and three in the first Test in Sri Lanka.
Ali’s place in the team should be assured by his performance with the ball, but a drop down the order could allow Bairstow to come in at No 3 with either Adil Rashid or Jack Leach potentially being replaced.
Bairstow, an accomplished opener in the ODI side having been promoted last year, would add top-order experience to support a new opening pair and it would mean captain Joe Root is not forced to move up from his favoured No 4 position.
Remains on sidelines?
Bairstow has been a mainstay of the England side, playing 59 Tests, but his injury may have just come at the worst time – for him, if not the team.
‘Bairstow now back-up to Foakes’
Bairstow needs to start thinking as a frontline batsman and accept he is back-up to Foakes, says Alec Stewart
With the need to find a long-term replacement for Cook and the emergence of Foakes, rather than deciding to concentrate on one role or the other, Bairstow’s hand could be forced by the selectors.
Stewart said: “It’s a great situation to be in from a selector’s point of view. England are spoilt for choice, which they haven’t been able to say too often. Whoever gets left out, it won’t be because they’re not good enough, it is just that we can only pick 11.”
If they decide to stick with a winning side then Bairstow will remain a spectator in Kandy, as he was in Galle.
Use our voting tool to make your call on Bairstow’s role in the second Test between England and Sri Lanka in Kandy, which you can watch live on Sky Sports Cricket