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Bairstow Snubbed To Accommodate THIS 'Rare Talent'; Is It Over For The English Star In Tests?

Key Backs Jamie Smith as Bairstow Omitted from England Test Squad [x.com]Key Backs Jamie Smith as Bairstow Omitted from England Test Squad [x.com]

The England Cricket Board has announced a 14-member Test squad under the leadership of Ben Stokes for the first two Tests of the three-match series against West Indies, starting from July 10.

The major shake-up in the squad includes the omission of experienced Jonny Bairstow in favor of young Jamie Smith. 

Key Backs Jamie Smith as Bairstow Omitted From Test Squad

Managing Director for England men's cricket, Rob Key, explained the decision, highlighting Smith's "rare talent."

“We’ve been watching Jamie Smith for quite some time,” said Key. “You just see players who are rare talents and he looks like that."

Key expressed doubts about Bairstow's ability to handle the physical demands of the wicketkeeper role, leading to his exclusion. He emphasized the need for a player who can handle various pressures, and he believes Smith fits the bill.

 “There’s a lot made of us just wanting someone who can go out there and play shots and not the case. We want someone who can not only up ante when they’re batting with the tail but soak up pressure when they need to as well and we feel Jamie Smith can do that.”

Key pointed out that Bairstow, who has played 100 Test matches, has seen his form decline recently.

“Jonny needs to get back to what he was a couple of years ago,” referring to Bairstow’s stellar performance in the 2022 home summer.

Key explained the selection process, “Often you're not making judgments on what they've done. You're making judgments on what they're going to do.”

Young spinner Shoaib Bashir has been picked ahead of Jack Leach, with uncapped seamers Dillon Pennington and Gus Atkinson also included. James Anderson’s farewell Test will start the series, with hopes of Mark Wood replacing him from the second Test.