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Ashes 2015: Ballance axed, Bairstow recalled

Jonny Bairstow believes Gary Ballance will make a similar England comeback to his own after being recalled to the side for next week’s third Ashes Test at the expense of his Yorkshire team-mate and as part of a shake-up in which Ian Bell moves up to No3.

While the series with Australia is level at one win apiece after two Tests, Bairstow for Ballance is the one change following Sunday’s 405-run defeat at Lord’s and a reaction from the selectors to a top order that in 2015 has been at least three wickets down for 52 runs or fewer a worrying eight times.

Bairstow, who averages 100.66 in Division One this season and has five hundreds and three fifties in his last 11 first-class innings, will now win his 15th Test cap at Edgbaston, 18 months after his last. The 25-year-old will bat at No5, with Bell and Joe Root both moving one place up.

Obviously I am thrilled to get the call-up. I’m really pleased to be striking the ball like that and hopefully that continues

-said Bairstow, after day three of Yorkshire’s game with Worcestershire at Scarborough, where he scored 138 in the first innings. “We go[to Edgbaston] with a lot of confidence that we can put on a show.

I’m desperately disappointed for Gaz. He was the second fastest to 1,000 Test runs in an England shirt. My thoughts are with him. I don’t have any doubts he will come back to Yorkshire and score a lot of runs. It’s inevitable he will be back playing for England sooner rather than later.

Asked if he had improved since his previous Test outing at Sydney in January 2014, he replied: “I’ve not really thought about it. I’ve just wanted to get on with my business and score runs for Yorkshire. I’m pleased with the way it’s gone this year.”

The national selector, James Whitaker, offered words of encouragement to Ballance, who steps down with a Test average of 47 but with his technique under scrutiny, while praising his replacement for forcing the selectors’ hands through sheer weight of runs. “Gary was naturally disappointed to miss out on this occasion. However, we feel that he will benefit from some time in county cricket to rediscover his form,” he said.

 “Jonny has worked extremely hard at his game and his record for Yorkshire speaks for itself.”

Bell’s new role comes with no guarantees, with the 33-year-old having experienced a lean spell himself after starring in the 2013 summer Ashes. The right-hander has averaged 28.48 since that series and England will hope the extra responsibility on his home ground can jolt his game back into life.

The Warwickshire batsman has not scored a century in five Tests at Edgbaston but his promotion to first-drop mid-Ashes is at least familiar. He was moved there for the fifth Test in 2009 following the decision to drop Ravi Bopara and rewarded the selectors by top-scoring with 72 in the first innings of England’s 197-run win.

Bell is understood to have reacted positively to the news and is now ready to embrace the increased responsibility in what is his seventh Ashes series. He averages four runs fewer at No3 than his career mean of 43.18 but scored a career-best 235 against India from there in 2011 at the Oval.

England’s head coach, Trevor Bayliss, remains keen to use two spinners at some point during the series and the leg-breaks of Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid have been retained as an option in the squad despite the 27-year-old’s late withdrawal from the Lord’s Test because of a finger injury.

Steven Finn continues as reserve fast bowler, although could come into contention for the fourth Test at Trent Bridge which comes four days after the scheduled last day at Edgbaston. Mark Wood has impressed since making his debut against New Zealand in May, but has showed signs of fatigue when playing the second of back-to-back Tests this summer.

Source - The Guardian

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