Bairstow ready for England test return in Sri Lanka

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International Twenty20 - South Africa v England

(Reuters) - Jonny Bairstow is hopeful of an England recall for the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Jan. 14, and could reprise the number three batting role from which he scored the last of his six test centuries in Colombo in 2018.

Bairstow is also a contender to open alongside Dom Sibley with Rory Burns having skipped the two-match tour while he awaits the birth of his first child, but it is more likely he will slot in at number three.

"The last time I played in Sri Lanka I got a hundred batting at three. I have generally done quite well there, so if that is the case then bring it on," Bairstow told reporters on Thursday.

"It would be a great opportunity and there is no better position from which to go out and score runs."

Bairstow’s last test was away in South Africa in Dec. 2019, when he scored just 10 runs in the match batting at number six and was dropped for Ollie Pope.

"I genuinely think my game is in the best place it’s been," he said. "There have been periods where I have wanted to work on different bits and people have said my technique has changed.

"But that’s fine, techniques do change and they are ever-evolving."

Bairstow will have fresh input on his game from newly-appointed England batting consultant Jacques Kallis, who amassed 13,289 test runs in a stellar career with South Africa, many of them at number three.

"In my eyes he is the best allrounder there has ever been. Someone that batted at the top of the order, caught fliers at slip and got so many wickets as well," he said.

"There are so many aspects that you could speak to him about, I am really intrigued to spend time with him and understand the process in which he went about it."

England’s squad will have an internal practice match on Friday having been given a clean bill of health, bar Moeen Ali who tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival and is self-isolating.

"Mo seems to be holding up OK," Bairstow said. "His health is the number one priority at this moment in time and he has a lot of support from within the whole group. We are staying in touch with him."

(This story refiles to correct first name of Rory Burns in paragraph two)

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)