Jonny Bairstow has reaffirmed his ambition to get back into England's Test set-up and is set to play first-class cricket with Yorkshire for the first time since 2018, with a plan to be involved in two Bob Willis Trophy games between the end of the Ireland series and three T20Is against Pakistan in late August.
Bairstow's most recent Test outing came on the 2019-20 South Africa tour, where he replaced an unwell Ollie Pope in Centurion, and he was left out of squads for New Zealand and Sri Lanka over the winter, with the selectors encouraging him to work on his batting. However, his involvement in England's white-ball teams, coupled with the Covid-19 hiatus, has left little opportunity to groove his first-class game.
He was again omitted from England's Test group earlier this month, moving across to the limited-overs bubble for three ODIs against Ireland rather than stay on as a reserve for the West Indies series. But he said before the start of the first ODI at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday that he will continue to push for a Test return.
"That's my ambition, I want to get back into that fold," he told Sky Sports. "I was disappointed not to be involved but that's natural, if I wasn't disappointed then it's starting to say 'thanks very much'. That's my burning ambition but the only way I'm going to do that is to score runs, starting in this ODI series, [and] to keep well. I'm hopefully going back to Yorkshire to play two four-day games in between this and the T20s. So yeah, the journey to hopefully get back into contention for that starts here."
Since averaging 92.33 for Yorkshire during the 2015 season that saw him recalled as a batsman by England, Bairstow has only played nine times in the Championship, most recently in the Roses game at Old Trafford in July 2018.
While his Test form has stagnated in recent years, Bairstow has become a key cog in Eoin Morgan's one-day side. His opening partnership with Jason Roy was a central plank of the England team that lifted the World Cup for the first time a year ago, but he suggested they would be starting a "new journey" against Ireland at the outset of the ICC's new ODI Super League, which will go towards qualification for the 2023 tournament in India.
"The World Cup final was amazing but there was a journey to get to that," he said. "We reached the pinnacle of that journey but we're well aware that now we start a new journey, to continue on from the standards that we set, we have to now go up a gear as well, to keep on moving forward, to keep the standards going higher and higher, leading into this Ireland series, and the ODI series at the end of the summer hopefully against Australia if that all goes ahead."
With several members of the World Cup side absent due to their involvement in the Test series against West Indies and Pakistan, and a younger crop pushing for selection in the white-ball training group, Bairstow said that he had enjoyed taking on a senior role in the camp.
"It's been great … having some younger guys coming in, some less-experienced guys coming in, learning from them as well, the experiences they've had in franchise competitions around the world or even in England if they've played against certain people. Even in the Irish side there's a few guys that have played with and against them for the counties. It's been good, the camp's gone really well so far, obviously in the bio-bubble it's very different to the norm but the guys are fresh and raring to go."