Jonny Bairstow asked by England to stay in New Zealand for Test warm-ups

Ali Martin in Napier
<span>Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow has been asked to remain in New Zealand for next week’s Test warm-up matches as England continue to monitor the fitness of Joe Denly.

Bairstow, playing in the Twenty20 series, was dropped from the Test team after the summer’s drawn Ashes series. Ed Smith, the national selector, told Bairstow to “reset” and target a return as a specialist batsman, rather than his previous role as wicketkeeper.

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Denly has returned to training after suffering strained ankle ligaments at the start of the tour – the right–hander did some light jogging and batted in the nets – but England have decided it is best to take the cautious route.

Related: Jonny Bairstow and Chris Jordan in line for early England return in New Zealand

Joe Root’s Test squad play a two-day practice match against a New Zealand XI in Whangarei from Tuesday. That is followed by a three-day first-class match against New Zealand A beginning on Friday. The latter is Denly’s target at this stage.

It therefore hands Bairstow a chance to push his claims for the two-match Test series against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui starting on 21 November, even if England are saying at this stage the 30-year-old is only providing cover for Denly.

England’s red-ball players have arrived to begin preparations for the series – one that sits outside the World Test Championship points system – and will be joined by Darren Gough, the former quick who will spend the next two weeks as a consultant to the seamers.

<span class="element-image__caption">Jonny Bairstow, on his way to a nets session in Napier, could find his hopes of a Test return dashed by Joe Denly’s recovery.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images</span>
Jonny Bairstow, on his way to a nets session in Napier, could find his hopes of a Test return dashed by Joe Denly’s recovery. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

With Paul Collingwood about to sign a full-time contract as an assistant coach, it leaves the fast-bowling role as the one remaining vacancy in Chris Silverwood’s backroom staff. Shane Bond, currently with the New Zealand camp for a short spell, performed this role for England during the first two Tests of the 2017-18 Ashes and built a strong rapport with Joe Root. Bond did not rule himself out but also summed up England’s difficulty in finding a suitable candidate: the 44-year-old’s freelance T20 work at Mumbai Indians and Sydney Thunder – and an upcoming assistant position with Southern Brave in The Hundred – is potentially more lucrative and less time-consuming than international cricket.

Bond said: “The biggest challenge of the international game is the grind of a coach. Look at England in particular: 300 days a year on the road, it’s challenging on family life. Whether it’s coaches or players, good management of people is paramount.”

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