Jonny Bairstow ‘fit and available’ for South Africa T20 opener after England injury scare

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Fit and available: Jonny Bairstow will play for England in their opening T20 clash against South Africa (Action Images via Reuters)
Fit and available: Jonny Bairstow will play for England in their opening T20 clash against South Africa (Action Images via Reuters)

Jonny Bairstow has declared himself “fit and available” for tonight’s first T20 contest against South Africa in Bristol.

Bairstow gave England a scare yesterday when he limped out of training with an ice pack on his left knee. He has had some swelling in the area in recent times that needs to be managed, which could mean he misses one of the three games in the next five days.

But he is expected to play tonight, slotting in his usual No4 position in the T20 side.

“Just to be clear, I am fit and available for selection,” Bairstow wrote on his Instagram Stories in response to a video of him doing lunges with team-mate Sam Curran on his shoulders. “If I was injured I wouldn’t be able to lift Sam, not to mention lunge him.”

Bairstow’s presence is important after he missed England’s first T20 series of the summer, against India, when rested.

Ben Stokes is the only batter missing from England’s first-choice side, but they remain without the likes of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.

Young batters Phil Salt and Harry Brook look set to miss out with Bairstow back and England’s all-round options such as Moeen Ali and Sam Curran.

This series – which continues tomorrow in Cardiff and concludes on Sunday in Southampton – is England players’ last chance to impress before their 15-man squad is named for October’s World Cup in Australia.

However, once the squad is named England will have a lot of time to fine-tune their plans: they play seven matches in Pakistan at the end of the season, before at least three in Australia.

It has been an awkward month of white-ball cricket for England so far, with 12 matches in 25 days and no series win in three attempts.

England team to play South Africa (probable): Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Livingstone, Moeen, Curran, Jordan, Rashid, Gleeson, Topley

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