JONNY BAIRSTOW’S hopes of retaining his place as England’s wicketkeeper by impressing behind the stumps for Yorkshire may have suffered a blow when the 24- year-old injured a finger in yesterday’s three-day practice match against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Bairstow had to leave the field after taking a painful blow when attempting to take a ball down the leg side from Liam Plunkett and he handed the gloves to Olly Robinson.
Last night it emerged that although the Yorkshire keeper has had an X-ray, the extent and seriousness of the damage will not be known until he has seen a specialist in Leeds.
Ironically, Bairstow sustained his injury shortly after stating his belief that keeping wicket to Yorkshire’s powerful seam attack may help him realise his England ambitions this summer.
The highly-regarded wicketkeeper- batsman took the gloves for the last two Ashes Tests in the winter and is keen to hang on to the gauntlets against Sri Lanka and India this summer.
But he is also deeply ambitious for Yorkshire and maintains there is a link between his aims for county and country.
“Standing behind the stumps to an attack like ours certainly keeps you on your toes and it lessens the jump up if I am chosen to keep for England,” he said.
“Our pace bowlers offer a great deal. Ryan Sidebottom has a lot of experience, Jack Brooks can swing the ball both ways, Steve Patterson is quite awkward to face.
“Then you’ve got Liam Plunkett and Tim Bresnan. I was with Liam out in Sri Lanka and he was bowling fast on some pretty flat pitches and roughing good batsmen up. We know Tim’s world class so it’s going to be a tough job for any side to face them.”
However, Bairstow is also hopeful that Yorkshire will be able to challenge for honours in all three formats of the game this summer.
“We believe we have a strong side and one that is capable of competing at the top of Division One come the back end of the season,” he said.
“There’s a lot of talent in the club and it was a good season for us in the Championship for us last year although we were pretty disappointed with how we performed in the one-day cricket and t20.
“Our performance in limited overs cricket is something that we have spoken about and we will be aiming to push for further honours in those two this year.”
On the field yesterday Yorkshire’s bowlers enjoyed exactly the sort of tough practice they needed as they prepared for Sunday’s County Championship Divison One opener against Somerset at Taunton.
Adil Rashid took 2-65 and Steve Patterson 2-51 on a day when Northamptonshire’s top order batted responsibly to guide their side to 283-5 at close of play. James Middlebrook made 79 and shared in a third-wicket stand of 123 with Andrew Hall who made 66.
Both players fell to Rashid shortly before tea and Patterson claimed his second wicket when he bowled James Kettleborough for 28 in the evening session.