Bairstow, who has played in six one-day internationals and six Twenty20 internationals, is the only player in the squad yet to be capped at Test level. Since making an impressive ODI debut against India in Cardiff last September, with two centuries already in this season’s County Championship.
He has also made a fifty in the ongoing tour match between the second-string England Lions and the West Indies which concludes at Northampton on Sunday. And were he to be selected on Thursday, Bairstow would complete a notable family double as he is the son of the late Yorkshire and England wicketkeeper David Bairstow, who appeared in four Tests from 1979 to 1981.
“Jonny Bairstow has put in a number of impressive performances both for England Lions and Yorkshire and has been working hard on the England Performance Programme over the last couple of years,” England national selector Geoff Miller said after announcing the squad. “He is an exciting young player, who now has an opportunity to experience the Test environment,” added Miller, a former England off-spinner who played international cricket alongside David Bairstow.
England’s squad, once more captained by opening batsman Andrew Strauss, also included five seamers in Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions, as well as likely new ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
“We have selected a very strong 13-man squad which allows us to consider a number of options before making a decision about Thursday’s side,” said Miller.
“We have included five seam bowlers who have all demonstrated that they are capable of winning Test matches for England.” England won just once in five Tests during their winter series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and away to Sri Lanka after reaching the top of the International Cricket Council rankings at home last year.
“This is an important period for us following a challenging winter where we learnt some valuable lessons, and we are preparing for a highly competitive series against a West Indies side full of quality players,” Miller said. For Bopara there was yet more injury-induced frustration after he suffered a side strain before the two-Test tour of Sri Lanka, which meant he was available as a batsman only and unable to bowl his medium-pacers.
As it was, England opted for spinner Samit Patel and had no choice but to omit Bopara this time around after his latest setback. “It’s disappointing for Ravi. We couldn’t look at selecting him because of his injury,” explained Miller. With early season English conditions generally favouring seamers, England have also left Patel out of this squad and included just one specialist slow bowler in off-spinner Graeme Swann. Thursday’s match will be the first of a three-Test series.
SQUAD; Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Graham Onions.