Jonny Bairstow says he's feeling refreshed after the prolonged break from training and is now hoping to make a mark during the three-Test series against West Indies at home.
Bairstow's position in England's Test setup had become uncertain before the COVID-19 enforced break in the game. After poor returns in the 2019 Ashes, he'd lost his place in the side for the tour of New Zealand although he was subsequently asked to stay back for the longer format after Joe Denly picked up an injury.
He was in the squad for the South Africa tour, but played only one Test, where he scored 10 runs across two innings. He was then rested for the Sri Lanka tour, which eventually got disrupted due to the onset of the pandemic. Now, with England yet to announce their squad for the Tests against West Indies next month, Bairstow hopes to get back into the scheme of things by performing well in the training camp.
"I've only played a few games this winter, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there," he told reporters via video conference. "I trained very, very hard leading into the South Africa series. Obviously the selection then was the selection but I carried on training really hard throughout.
"It has been an enjoyable break that I've been able to have, because you're able to reset and refresh, but I'm now really excited to be back in. I need to get into camp, knuckle down and score the runs I need to score to hopefully be on that team sheet."
During the 2019 Ashes, Bairstow scored only 214 runs at 23.77. In the tour of West Indies earlier that year, he scored 110 at 22.00 as England lost the series 2-1. While he hopes to overcome the decline in his batting numbers, Bairstow pointed out that he has improved as a wicket-keeper and hopes to win back the gloves in the future, which have been handed to Buttler since the start of the New Zealand tour.
"I'd like to think that my performances with my gloves, people haven't been speaking about them, means that I've been doing a good thing with them. With regard to my glove-work, I've been really happy with that over a period of time now. When that opportunity arises again, I'll hopefully be able to take it."
As part of the bio-security measures in place in wake of the ongoing pandemic, the Tests are set to be played behind closed doors. Some players have wondered whether the lack of an atmosphere will affect the intensity of players, but Bairstow feels there will be other sources of motivation.
"After such a layoff of cricket, there's going to be two teams excited about the prospect of getting back out onto the field. It's going to be exactly the same; there's still going to be the internal drivers driving all of the players, rather than getting it from the crowd or anything like that.
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