Jonny Bairstow excited to begin England’s ‘new journey’ in Test cricket

Jonny Bairstow is thrilled to be present for the start of England’s “new journey” at Lord’s this week, just days after arriving back from the Indian Premier League.

England kick off their international summer against New Zealand on Thursday, with recently appointed head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes at the helm for the first time.

Bairstow was on hand to take part in the pair’s first training session on Monday, just a week after returning from his IPL stint with Punjab Kings.

It has been a gruelling schedule for the Yorkshireman, who has also contested a T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, played in the Ashes in Australia and toured the West Indies since last playing on home soil, but the idea of taking a break was never part of his plans.

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“I don’t want a rest. That hadn’t even come into my mind. I’ve never been one for resting when there’s opportunities to play for England,” he said.

“Playing Test cricket is something I want to do. People know my desire to play for England, to play Test cricket. Lord’s is a fantastic place for us to be to start the new journey and it should be great fun.

“It’s exciting to be back here, hopefully with a full crowd, and come Thursday it’ll hopefully be fizzing.”

I don’t want a rest. That hadn’t even come into my mind. I’ve never been one for resting when there’s opportunities to play for England.

Jonny Bairstow

While Stokes’ promotion merely amplifies the leadership role he already had as Joe Root’s vice-captain and the dressing room talisman, the addition of McCullum represents a significant injection of fresh blood, fresh eyes and fresh thinking to a team who have won just once in their last 17 attempts.

McCullum has never coached at first-class level before, but was a transformative skipper for New Zealand during his own playing days. As an aggressive wicketkeeper-batter who moved between formats on a frequent basis, he was also a direct inspiration for Bairstow.

“Baz is someone I’ve always wanted to work with. He’s someone I’ve played against and grown up watching and was very intrigued by,” he said.

“When I started my career, he was someone who was unbelievable at what he did. So I’ll definitely be trying to pick his brains on a few bits but at the same time going out and playing my game and my way and adapting along the way, too.

Bairstow was a fan of McCullum’s exciting batting style (Anthony Devlin/PA)

(PA Archive)

“Everyone is really excited by it because his cricket was unique. He played an exciting brand of cricket that everyone wanted to watch and everyone within the stands was intrigued by what the outcome would be when he was in the middle.”

Fine knocks in Sydney and Antigua made Bairstow the only Englishman to score two Test centuries in their winless winter on the road, leaving him with enough credit in the bank to take the number five spot ahead of in-form county colleague Harry Brook.

The other new face at nets, Durham seamer Matthew Potts, does appear to have a chance of making his debut and turned in a strong showing in practice.

He has already taken 35 county wickets in six matches this season, including four five-fors along the way, and feels ready to make the step up.

“It would mean everything to me. This wasn’t at all on the radar at the start of the year so it would be a great moment for me and the family – the pinnacle of cricket at the home of cricket,” Potts said.

“Who wouldn’t want to come down and be involved with these guys? You are playing with some absolute legends of the game like Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, running in taking poles.

“I’ve spoken to Jimmy quite a bit, he’s been really welcoming. All the boys are nice fellas and we have a really good team environment with the new coaches and new captain – I think it is a really nice place to be.

“But it is the same game – you run in and bowl with a red ball, you bowl at a batsman. I am not going to change anything about my game. We’ll see how it reacts to the pressure but I am just going to go in and do my thing if I get the nod.”

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