ANI Photo | England head coach Brendon McCullum defends Jonny Bairstow’s performance in first Ashes Test against Australia

England head coach Brendon McCullum defended wicket-keeper batter Jonny Bairstow’s performance despite his errors in the first Ashes Test, which England lost by two wickets, adding “at No. 7 is a real weapon for us.”
Bairstow was guilty of failing to go for Usman Khawaja’s catch in James Anderson’s second innings over while the Australian opener was batting on 5. In the second innings, Khawaja hit a match-winning 65. Bairstow also dropped Alex Carey twice and failed to stump Cameron Green.
The senior batter took five catches, but it was his squandered opportunities that earned him criticism after England lost a close encounter in Birmingham.
However, McCullum emphasised that keeping wickets in England is a difficult task and that Bairstow’s performance with the bat is critical for England in the remaining Ashes series. Bairstow had 78 hits off 78 pitches in the first inning and 20 more in the second.
“I thought they were pretty tough mistakes, to be honest. I’ve kept over here before: it’s not the easiest place to keep, and when the ball is spitting and bouncing out of the rough, it can be quite difficult – and when you’ve got to stand a little bit closer on a wicket which is a bit slower and can hurry [you] a little bit, there is a risk that… those sharp edges can be a little bit more difficult,” McCullum, England’s Test coach was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“I actually thought Jonny kept really well, right throughout. If you look at the way he progressed throughout the game as well, I think he found a natural rhythm, especially today [Tuesday], and I thought he did a really good job. And we know what he offers with the bat. Him coming in at No. 7 is a real weapon for us as well, so I think he’ll be better for the run,” McCullum added.
Bairstow’s first innings of the Test game demonstrated that edge: stepping out at 176 for 5, he smashed 78 off 78 balls, the competition’s third-highest score. It was the kind of innings that Foakes, despite his good characteristics, simply could not have played: he is, by his own admission, a more controlled batsman, as evidenced by his strike rate of 51.81 against McCullum and Stokes.
Australia and England are set to square off in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Wednesday, with visitors 1-0 up in the series. (ANI)

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