Should Jonny Bairstow be freed from the wicketkeeping gloves?

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Jonny Bairstow’s been one of England’s few semi-competent batsmen in recent times. This has given rise to the very obvious conclusion that England’s batting woes are pretty much entirely down to him because if he wasn’t keeping wicket he’d be making even more runs.

Would Bairstow make more runs if he didn’t have to keep wicket?

Ali Martin points out that all five of Bairstow’s Test centuries have come in the first innings when England have batted first – so basically pre-squatting-and-catching.

For his part, Bairstow says that he’s batted better since he became keeper (he averages 29 without the gloves and 42 with them). He also made most of his billions of runs for Yorkshire while he was their wicketkeeper.

We have no idea what all of this means, but if any England player’s averaging 42 at the minute, that strikes us as being a massive win and maybe not an area that needs to be messed around with too much.

Who would keep wicket instead?

Jos Buttler is the obvious answer because he keeps wicket for the one-day sides. However, Buttler averages 30 when he keeps in Test cricket and 44 when he doesn’t. This feels like little more than displacement, like we’d still be having an ‘X should be freed from the gloves’ debate even once the change had been made.

Ben Foakes could also play. Pretty much everyone’s up for this on the basis of the Stokes, Foakes, Woakes thing. He can also bat and most of the Test batsmen can’t, so it’s hard to see how this would weaken the side.

So should Jonny Bairstow be freed from the wicketkeeping gloves?

If he’s got a broken finger, yes. If his fingers are intact, no, probably not.

Our reasoning runs like this: Jonny Bairstow’s not really dropped the ball very much in recent times and it really isn’t that unheard of for England to have a wicketkeeper who drops the ball fairly often.

We greatly value wicketkeepers who don’t (literally) drop the ball.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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      1. As mr Amit Varma, commented on India’s selection for the 3rd test:

        When your Beta is guaranteed to be negative, then you might as well go all-in on a high variance in Alpha.
        If the price is an occasional collapse so be it.

      2. We don’t exactly know what that means but Amit Varma was the first reasonably high profile person to say something nice about this website.

  1. I move that YJB ‘does an Asghar Stanikzai’ (aka Afghan the Afghan) and change his surname to English. No idea if this would impact his batting or keeping, but it would be fun.

    1. put this alongside the excellent vaughan-twose anecdote and a run at next year’s fringe must surely await.

  2. The only difference between the swap of gloves around with Buttler and Bairstow being that Buttler is being asked to bat 6/7 anyway and could therefore recover (unless we are always 50-4… hang on… wait…) whereas Bairstow is hailed as the best batsman other than Root and that his batting whilst good now with some eye catching 70’s, would be more likely to generate big and regular hundreds without the pressure of keeping for 100 overs first before batting in the top order. On that basis it makes sense i think.

    Although none of this would be that much of an issue if we had an opening pair that could average 40 each. Even 35 each. And a top four that would put 200 on the board before departing.

  3. Talk of the Fringe is my only real excuse for posting this link here – Daisy and I spent a full week up there this year.

    It is also a sort-of match report; albeit tennis rather than cricket. But this is the weirdest tennis you’ll ever read about. Also the most Northerly, if the real variety is your thing.

    Is it possible that England beat Scotland 1-0 in extra time?

    Plenty of genuine news from the Fringe if you click the before and after pages too.

  4. The England team is starting to look more and more ridiculous, and yet somehow closer and closer to the actual best XI players.

    Playing Woakes, Stokes, Curran, Foakes, Buttler, Bairstow, Moeen and Rashid all in the same team is patently absurd.

    I am also finding it quite hard to think that those lot plus Root, Broad and Anderson wouldn’t be better than anything we have put out since 2013, even if we did have to open the batting with Woakes and Sam Curran.

  5. The BBC will be showing the final Ireland vs Afghanistan ODI at Stormont this Friday – on the website or via the BBC Sport app if you’ve got a smart TV.

    I really enjoyed today’s game – I’ve now watched more of Ireland playing cricket live on-screen this week than I’ve seen England play in ten years.

    At this rate I’m going to start celebrating my Irish great-grandparents by changing allegiance, Murtagh-style.

  6. Why can’t they have Bairstow keep in the first innings and Buttler in the 2nd, share the load. Actually, why can I not think of a single instance where this has happened, is there some sort of rule against it?

    1. Widespread mockery is the only real answer as to why this doesn’t happen.

      There have been plenty of occasions where MS Dhoni or Tatenda Taibu or someone has ditched the gloves to bowl a few overs.

      1. ‘What’s your average? Nine? Ten? Come on, you must know your average. I think it’s nine. Nine point five, so we’ll give you ten.’

  7. But if he’s freed from his wicketkeeping gloves, how will he keep wickets? It’s rather unreasonable to expect him to catch everything in his bare hands because he will be too sore to bat.

  8. Having mastered not using his hands to catch, Jennings has decided to give batting without using the bat a go. Looks pretty adept at that un-skill too!

    He is not test-quality batsman he is rubbish.

  9. You know how some cricketers’ names make funny-sounding anagrams? Well it turns out that Jasprit Bumrah is an anagram of Jasprit Bumrah, which sounds hilarious.

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