In-from England batter Jonny Bairstow says he wants to play all three formats for “as long as possible”, despite Ben Stokes’ recent retirement from one-day international cricket.
Stokes cited an “unsustainable” schedule as a contributing factor to his decision to retire from the 50-over format aged 31.
The 32-year-old Bairstow is one of the last remaining ‘all-format’ players in the England side and, speaking to Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton, is keen for that to remain the case for a while yet.
“Naturally there are challenges, we’ve seen that over a period of time now,” Bairstow said.
“We only have to look at the Tests this summer where there was a one-day squad over in Holland at the same time. Even at the back-end of this summer, there are the seven T20s in Pakistan that pretty much overlap with the last Test match [against South Africa].
“But you know me well enough to know that I will be trying to play all forms for as long as possible.
“I will be going all out for as long as I can. There might come a time that, for different reasons, you do have to make a decision but that’s part of life and part and parcel of cricket.
“In the near future, I don’t see myself making a choice. I love being part of all three squads.”
“I feel good. I think there’s definitely a difference coming out of the back of Covid. Being able to get revved up by the crowd – I’m someone who feeds off the crowd’s energy – it has allowed my personality to come back out. I’ve loved every part of this summer so far, and hopefully that can continue.”
Jonny Bairstow on his batting form
‘ODI cricket a stepping stone to Tests’
As for the schedule, Atherton along with Ravi Shastri, Mark Butcher and former white-ball captain Eoin Morgan discussed at length the “tipping point” at which the game finds itself due to the demands placed on players and the balance of power seemingly shifting from the international game to franchise cricket.
With fears that bilateral series could be most at risk, specifically the 50-over game, Bairstow stressed that he still loves the format – and warned of the risks of young players only committing to the “rollercoaster” of T20 cricket.
“I think it is a really good format,” Bairstow said. “The journey we have been on as a group to get to [winning] the 2019 World Cup was amazing.
“I also think that 50-over cricket is in some ways a stepping stone into Test cricket. You get worked over for longer, you sometimes have to grind out difficult periods and play good cricket shots. The middle overs, especially are a lot like Test cricket.”
He added: “There is the lure of playing in T20 leagues and making a quick buck, let’s be honest about that.
“But, everything comes from your basic technique, which you learn in four-day cricket – and then you expand from that.
“Look at [Joe] Root, for instance, his technique is fantastic and then he takes that from Test cricket to 50-over cricket, to T20 cricket… and all he does is expand his game.
“I think if you try to just look at T20 cricket, it can be tricky in some ways because that is a rollercoaster that can go very quickly.
“Your bread and butter is your four-day cricket, your 50-over cricket and then your T20 cricket, make an impact in that to then go forward and enable you to have more longevity in it.”
‘Playing all three formats will take it out of you’
Expanding further on cricket’s crammed schedule, Bairstow said: “I don’t think we have a choice, do we? The schedule is the schedule.
“It’s a difficult one. You want to be playing, but I think Stokesy does have a point in some ways – I mentioned about the overlapping games.
“There used to be lead-ins and training days before games but this is the first time in 11 years I have been with England that we have back-to-back games on successive days.
“They are also trying to fit in different things like The Hundred so it is tricky.
“There are going to be impacts and, if you are playing all of those formats at full intensity, it will take it out of you.”