LONDON: England’s wicket-keeper/batsman Jonny Bairstow is unperturbed at the prospect of facing Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir again in the two-Test series starting here at Lord’s next week.
Amir, who burst on to the scene with his brilliant left-arm pace and swing eight years ago in England, took his 100th Test wicket to help Pakistan on the way to the hard-earned victory they completed over Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday.
A five-year ban over his part in the 2010 Lord’s spot-fixing controversy stopped Amir in his tracks, of course — but on his comeback tour of England in 2016, there were still signs of the wonderful skills with which he had lit up world cricket as a teenager.
Bairstow succumbed just once, in the final Test at The Oval, and Amir finished the four-match series with 12 wickets at an unflattering 42 each as luck largely evaded him.
Referencing the drawn series two years ago, Bairstow said: “We played them [Pakistan] not too long ago, so there will be people in their team we have played against previously.
“There are plans that you are going to have. You could pick out any right-arm bowler that we have had problems against — [or Australia’s] [Mitchell] Starc and [Mitchell] Johnson are two very good bowlers.
“It’s possibly a disservice to our players [to mention it], because we have got players who have scored a lot of runs around the world against left-armers.
“People have got skills – I don’t think it’s a problem that needs highlighting.”
Bairstow is also enthused by the Test return, fresh from the Indian Premier League, of Jos Buttler — whose surprise selection at number seven will allow the Yorkshireman to move up to five as he seeks to consolidate his Test average of 39.20.
Reflecting on the first squad picked three days ago by new national selector Ed Smith, he said: “Bringing Jos in at seven is really exciting.
“He has obviously been in great form in the IPL. It is a really positive selection.
“You have got to keep faith with people and you have got to make difficult decisions — and that is exactly what has happened.”
Smith has ‘kept faith’ with Mark Stoneman at the top of the order, but dispensed with James Vince at number three – a position which will instead be filled by captain Joe Root.
Vince’s omission was accompanied with words of advice from Smith, who spelled out that he believes the Hampshire batsman has the ability to score many more runs than he so far has — and needs to go out and prove it.
Speaking at New Balance’s launch of England’s kits for this year, Bairstow said: “Vincey is a fantastic player. It is well above my pay grade to decide what he needs to do, but that conversation will have been had.”