David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd has backed Jonny Bairstow for a surprise return to the England Test team at the expense of current openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley.
Bairstow made the last of his 70 Test appearances in December 2019 and was left out of last summer’s series against West Indies and Pakistan.
The 31-year-old was not handed an England Test contract last month but ‘Bumble’ says he would be his ‘pick’ to open alongside Zak Crawley in next year’s Ashes series in Australia.
Batting at number three, Kent batsman Crawley made a brilliant double century against Pakistan in August and has been tipped to move up to the opening position.
Current openers Burns and Sibley have both endured mixed Test careers to date and former England coach Lloyd has questioned their places in the team.
‘If I were a selector, I am always looking at the Ashes. That is in my mind every four years. To prepare and prepare well,’ he wrote in a column for Sky Sports.
‘England seem to have settled on Rory Burns and Dom Sibley but they’ve not set the game alight.
‘An opening pair needs to be consistent and able to change gear, to move the game forward.
‘For that reason, I would definitely open with Zak Crawley, who looks so natural, and Jonny Bairstow, who is a very accomplished cricketer.
‘Both Burns and Sibley have quirky techniques and I doubt that they batted like that when they were 16 or 18 years old. There just seems to be so much that can go wrong.
‘In the Ashes last time around the selectors came up with the idea that the one-day opening batsman, Jason Roy, could open in Test match cricket. It was a spectacular failure.
‘Now the other opening batsman in one-day cricket is Bairstow, he’s got six Test match hundreds.
‘He’d be my pick; he’s pretty basic in what he does but he can change the game, there is no doubt about that.’
Lloyd also says he would be a ‘tragedy’ if World Cup winner Adil Rashid did not play another Test.
The 32-year-old has made 19 Test appearances but none since the summer of 2019, with his immediate focus on white-ball cricket.
‘I would camp outside Adil Rashid’s house, speak to his family on a daily basis and if he’s got any doubts about his shoulder, get him the best medical treatment there is in the world and get him in the team,’ Lloyd added.
‘He’s bowling beautifully, he’s at the right age now, in his early thirties, for a leg-spinner and I think it would be a tragedy and a travesty if we lost him.
‘He’s obviously got a bit of self-doubt and need a bit of TLC so I’d give that to him, make him feel wanted and do all the things that would make him comfortable because he would benefit this team, no doubt about it.’
Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.