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Jonny Bairstow returns from a broken leg to score 97 runs for Yorkshire’s second XI

Jonny Bairstow returns from a broken leg to score 97 runs for Yorkshire's second XI

Jonny Bairstow produced a hard-hitting innings of 97 from 88 balls for Yorkshire 2nd XI, in his first competitive innings since fracturing his leg last summer, to indicate he is ready to challenge for a place in this summer’s Ashes.

For England’s Test team in the 2022 domestic season, Bairstow, 33, was in the best shape of his life, amassing 681 runs at 75.66 at almost a run per ball, including four hundred and a 71 not out in five straight innings against New Zealand and India to launch the so-called “Bazball” movement.

He missed England’s victory in the T20 World Cup in Australia, their subsequent Test campaigns in Pakistan and New Zealand, and the final Test of the summer against South Africa due to several fractures he sustained to his left leg in a bizarre golfing accident in September.

He had also agreed to play for Punjab Kings in the current IPL, but he backed out of that agreement to focus on his return to red-ball cricket. He is anticipated to step up that recovery by playing for Yorkshire’s 1st XI in the County Championship match against Glamorgan next month.

Bairstow already stated he was fit and prepared for his return, but his performance against Nottinghamshire 2nd XI at Headingley dispelled any concerns that his form would suffer as a result of the protracted absence. He scored 13 fours and two sixes.

Although Bairstow did face one potential England teammate in Nottinghamshire’s Olly Stone, who played his first first-class match in two years against Hampshire earlier this month and is increasing his red-ball workload in preparation for a potential Ashes role, tougher tests still lay ahead.

Early in Bairstow’s innings, Stone could have had him caught at second slip after picking up a quick speed, but the ball sailed to the boundary instead. But in his next period, Bairstow, who was going for a comeback hundred, sliced a short ball to point, and he got his comeuppance.

For the duration of the game, Bairstow will keep wicket and field to gauge his readiness for both positions. Although he called the idea of him taking the gloves for Yorkshire a “non-story” last week, Harry Brook, who was supposed to replace him in the middle order, ended up being the winter’s breakout player with 797 runs at 88.55 in his five Test matches against Pakistan and New Zealand. This suggests that Brook may return to the England team as the wicketkeeper in place of Ben Foakes.

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