I'm not the best wicketkeeper in England: Bairstow

Adelaide: Wicketkeeping in Test cricket doesn't necessarily hurt your batting according to England gloveman Jonny Bairstow, who concedes he isn't the best pure keeper in his country, and empathises with his Australian counterparts who have been locked in a fight to be behind the stumps in the Ashes.

Incumbent Matthew Wade, Peter Nevill and Alex Carey have been vying to keep at the Gabba this month, with none of the three able to post a big score so far in the Sheffield Shield season, bringing part-time West Australian keeper Cameron Bancroft into the conversation. Wade, who returned to Australia's Test XI late last year, came close to losing his spot to part-time gloveman Peter Handscomb in Australia's most recent Test assignment in Bangladesh.

Yet despite being open to keeping in white-ball cricket, Handscomb - now established as Australia's No.5 - has shut down talk he could be a long-term Test keeper, insisting his focus is batting.

But Bairstow has played 28 Tests as his team's designated gloveman, and 17 as a batsman, and his average is considerably better in the matches where he keeps, 46.02 compared to 28.96. He suggested keeping could actually be beneficial to batting.

"I think it's very individual, because the balance between how much it takes out of you compared to how much you're still in the game, how much you're mentally prepared, how much it helps with your batting because if you fail with your batting then you've potentially got another way of influencing the game with your keeping," Bairstow said.

He said he knew what Wade, Nevill and Carey were going through.

"I've been in the same boat myself," Bairstow said.

"It's bloody tough. Going into your county games back home, or your shield games here, knowing that you're potentially in the running for a Test spot between two or three guys, guys that are wanting to stay in the team, guys that are wanting to break back into the team, guys that may not have been in the team before.

"That also is a healthy competition as well. If you look in England, the one-day side for instance. At one point you had [Craig] Kieswetter, [Jos] Buttler, Bairstow, all three of us played in the same game.

"Even just recently, you had Jos that kept, myself and Sam Billings. So there's three guys there that could be keeping at any point. So it's something that spurs you on but at the same time it can be quite tiring as well, because you know if you go for a worldie down the leg side and you drop one, and you're playing against a guy and he goes down leg side and takes a worldie, he's done his chance no harm. Or it might be playing in your mind about how the selectors may perceive that you should be playing, and that might be different to the way that you want to be playing. So there's lots of different ways in which you can go about it, but I'm sure that it won't be the first time that these guys have been through it.

"They'll have fought off people in the past to get to their state sides, into their first-grade sides, into the international sides previously."

While maintaining that keeping is still the main criterion for a wicketkeeper, Bairstow conceded he wouldn't be playing international cricket if it was the only factor.

"Your glove work is your No.1 thing that you're judged on. But if you're averaging 10 or 12, or 20 then all of a sudden because you're doing that, your glove work gets notched down, so you might go for someone who's a seven out 10, a six out of 10 because it just gives you a bit more balance.

"It does resonate with me, because if you're going on pure keeping, then [county veterans] Chris Read and James Foster would have been keeping for England for however long. They're still the two best glovemen in England. There's no qualms about it in my opinion.

"But now it's a case of if you're batting at No.7, you've still got to be scoring runs.

"In England especially they're wanting you to be batting at five and six and churning runs, as well as keeping. It's almost like an all-rounder's spot."

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This story I'm not the best wicketkeeper in England: Bairstow first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.