Bairstow keen to retain wicketkeeper role for fourth Test

Jonny Bairstow fractured his finger in England's third Test against India at Trent Bridge, but hopes to return at the Rose Bowl.

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow   -  Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow has admitted he is "desperate" to keep his place in the England side as a wicket-keeper ahead of the fourth Test here. The  28-year-old suffered a fracture in his middle finger during the third Test, after which Jos Buttler took over behind the stumps. Amid suggestions that he could feature in the side as a specialist batsman, Bairstow insisted that he wanted to keep wicket.

"The finger feels good. I wasn’t able to put my hand in my pocket a few days ago but that's absolutely fine now. The swelling has gone down and it’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be," he said here on Tuesday. "I want to play so if I’m not able to keep wicket I’d like to think I can play as a specialist batsman. At the same time I’m still desperate to try to keep my place as the keeper."

If England's training session at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday is any indication, though, Bairstow will not be keeping. The Yorkshireman, who had a long chat with head coach Trevor Bayliss, was seen performing fielding drills while Buttler donned the gloves.

"It’s a difficult one because you put so much hard work into keeping wicket over a long sustained period of time," Bairstow had said ahead of the practice session. "It would be like saying do you (reporters) want to give up your lap-top and write everything free hand again?"

All of Bairstow's five Test centuries have come when he has been playing as a wicket-keeper. He dismissed the idea that giving keeping up would free him up as a batsman. "If you look at the stats they suggest I’m better if I keep wicket as well," he said.

"If you look at all the sports I've played I've always wanted to be involved all the time and wanted to have an influence on the game. Thats definitely something that I've thrived on doing. I don’t know what it is that makes the two (batting and keeping) very compatible but I enjoy doing them both immensely."

Meanwhile, asked if he would target Bairstow if he played, Mohammed Shami answered in the affirmative. "Obviously," he said. "When you see that a batsman has a weakness and he feels uncomfortable in some way, you'd prefer to work on that aspect. It's not just me, any fast bowler will want to target his weak zone."