‘I’m not blind': England head coach Brendon McCullum on Jonny Bairstow | Cricket - Hindustan Times

‘I’m not blind': England head coach Brendon McCullum on Jonny Bairstow's struggles against India

Feb 21, 2024 09:28 AM IST

India vs England 4th Test: Jonny Bairstow's highest score in the six innings that he has batted so far on this tour is 37.

England head coach Brendon McCullum is "not blind" to Jonny Bairstow's struggles in the ongoing Test series against India but the former New Zealand captain, the mastermind behind Bazball, is not ready to give up on the big-hitting right-hander who has delivered the goods for three lions consistently in the recent past. "I'm not blind but he's done so well for us. We know that a top-quality Jonny Bairstow is as good as anyone in any conditions, so we've got to keep on giving him confidence and block out a lot of the external noise," McCullum said after England lost the Rajkot Test by a whopping 434 runs.

Jonny Bairstow and Brendon McCullum (AFP)
Jonny Bairstow and Brendon McCullum (AFP)

Bairstow's highest score in the six innings that he has batted so far on this tour is 37. Three times, he has got his eyes in but was dismissed either due to a brute of a delivery - like he got from Axar Patel in Hyderabad - or because of an error in judgement. The experienced cricketer, however, would be mighty disappointed for not even being able to get into the double figures on the placid track in Rajkot. He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings and in the second, he managed only 4.

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That Bairstow struggles in the Indian conditions is evident. His average after playing 11 Tests in India is 25 which is 11 lower than his career Test average of 36. He has four ducks in India and only three half-centuries.

Cook wants Bairstow to be dropped, McCullum doesn't think so

Former England captain Alastair Cook feels it might not be a bad idea to take Bairstow off the firing line and pick Dan Lawrence who can also contribute in the spin department, taking the pressure off Joe Root. "He's had a tough tour so far. And India is a very hard place to continue going on that on the treadmill. I'm taking Jonny out of the firing line, to protect the player." Cook told TNT Sports. "Someone who is fresh and clear of all the debris so far in this series," he added.

McCullum, however, said he would "block outside noise" and continue to back Bairstow. “I haven’t even seen the wicket. But I’d anticipate Jonny would be playing, yes. So from our point of view, we’ve got to keep on giving him confidence and block out a lot of the external noise as well and keep him really present and focused on what he’s trying to achieve, and I’m sure Jonny will come good. (I will) spend a bit of time with Jonny and remind him that he’s such a wonderful player."

Bairstow also received support from former England captain Michael Atherton, who said it would not be the right move to leave Bairstow out at such a crucial point in the series. "[Bairstow] has been so central to this project that I don't see them leaving him out now, at a critical juncture," Atherton told Sky Sports Cricket Podcast. "Everything they've done is about trying to give their players security and a feeling that they're going to be backed to the hilt… I think they'll back that experience and they'll back him to come good."

India lead the five-match series 2-1. The fourth Test will begin on Friday in Ranchi.

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