Bairstow hopeful of outshining De Villiers in South Africa
Jonny Bairstow has set himself the challenge of outperforming opposite number AB de Villiers during England’s tour of South Africa.
Bairstow has been picked as England’s first-choice wicketkeeper for the tour after taking the gloves from Jos Buttler following the second Test with Pakistan in October.
England have not won a Test in the three matches Bairstow has kept wicket but, ahead of Tuesday’s tour opener against a South Africa Invitation XI, he is hopeful of outshining one of the game’s best.
“Having the confidence of the captain and coach going into the warm-up games and hopefully the first Test allows you to be relaxed and enjoy yourself,” Bairstow told The Guardian.
“That’s when I play my best cricket and hopefully I’ll be able to do that not only in the warm-up games but going into the series.
“You can never take anything for granted. Every spot within the side has got to be treasured and every opportunity you get you’ve got to try and take.
“So from game to game you’re always wanting to do as well as you can and get a run. Hopefully I’ll be able to secure that spot. I’ve only kept in three Test matches but it’s an exciting time for me personally.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge and with that comes a lot of responsibility.”
“You want to do as well as you can against the best that you can. Obviously comparing yourself to someone like AB is going to be a fantastic challenge and if you do come out being the better of the wicket-keeper-batsmen then I will have had a very good tour.”
Bairstow’s first appearance as a Test wicketkeeper came in the Boxing Day Test of 2013 with Australia in Sydney.
He endured a nightmarish performance on that occasion, scoring just 31 and dropping Chris Rogers, who posted a pivotal hundred to help the hosts to their fourth win of an Ashes series whitewash.
“Going back to 2013 I don’t think I’d kept a full season for Yorkshire in county cricket and not having really played any cricket for six weeks was a contributing factor,” Bairstow added.
“I think I’ve grown as a person over the last couple of years since the two Tests in Australia. The position of the squad and the morale in the camp is completely different from what it was going into those Test matches in Melbourne and Sydney.
“When you’re 3-0 down against an Australian side that’s flying it’s never going to be an easy Test. So there’s different circumstances that are around this group of players at the moment and it’s an exciting time to be involved in English cricket.”