• Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

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Harmison: Bairstow an option to open


Steve Harmison touts Jonny Bairstow as potential opener in pink-ball Test after England’s top-order struggles in Chennai; Bairstow back in the squad after being rested from first two matches of four-Test series; third game in Ahmedabad from February 24

Last Updated: 16/02/21 11:44am

Jonny Bairstow has been touted a potential England opener by Steve Harmison

Steve Harmison feels Jonny Bairstow is an option to open for England in the day-night third Test against India in Ahmedabad.

Bairstow is now back with the England squad having been rested for the first two matches of the series and could return to a batting line-up rolled for 134 and 164 in the second Test.

The Yorkshireman batted at No 3 during the 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka but Harmison reckons he could come in one place higher, with Dom Sibley out for 16 and three in the second Test in Chennai and Rory Burns, who made nought and 25, averaging under 10 across his last five Tests.

Ravichandran Ashwin took eight wickets and scored a hundred in the second Test (Pic credit - BCCI)

Ravichandran Ashwin took eight wickets and scored a hundred in the second Test (Pic credit – BCCI)

“I think the top-order needs to be looked at,” said former England fast bowler Harmison, who took 226 wickets in 63 Tests.

“I think both openers are getting out playing across the line too many times, especially in Asian conditions, so we may have to experiment with Bairstow possibly opening the batting.

“I quite liked the way Dan Lawrence attacked things [batting at No 3 in the second innings of the second Test].”

England lost the second Test by 317 runs (Pic credit - BCCI)

England lost the second Test by 317 runs (Pic credit – BCCI)

The spin-friendly, rapidly-deteriorating pitch for the second Test has come under scrutiny but Harmison says India have the right to prepare surfaces as they see fit.

“I don’t see anyone complaining when there are green seamers prepared in England. You do have to have home advantage. You just have to perform on the pitch and that is the most important thing,” he said.

“I thought for the first two sessions of day one the pitch was decent to bat on. After that, it really deteriorated quickly.

“I am not sure India asked for it as I think it is a big gamble to go in that way. If England win the toss, bat first and bat well, then all of a sudden India are 2-0 down.”

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Harmison says James Anderson will have a big part to play in the day-night Test against India (Pic credit – BCCI)

Harmison says James Anderson will have a big part to play in the day-night Test against India (Pic credit – BCCI)

James Anderson should return for next week’s day-night game having been rested for the second Test as the England hierarchy manage player workload.

Harmison added: “I played one day-night game with the pink ball in Abu Dhabi and there were periods when the sun went down and the light started to take effect that the ball did considerably more through the air.

“If it does that in Ahmedabad, it brings the more English-type bowlers into play – although every surface brings Jimmy Anderson into play!

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England captain Joe Root says he understands Moeen Ali’s decision to leave the squad and return home to his family (Pic credit – BCCI)

England captain Joe Root says he understands Moeen Ali’s decision to leave the squad and return home to his family (Pic credit – BCCI)

“Sometimes it is not like that, though, so England will need to balance their attack and get the batting unit right.

“England made four changes after winning convincingly in the first Test so we could have eight changes – we just don’t know.”

Follow text commentary of the day-night third Test between India and England in Ahmedabad on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 8.30am on Wednesday, February 24.





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