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India v England 2024

‘Things will be more cut-throat’ – Michael Vaughan casts doubt on Test futures of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has called for England’s management to be more cut-throat, suggesting that the Test futures of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes should be in doubt should either finish the India-England Test series quietly in Dharamshala.

Neither Bairstow or Foakes have passed fifty in 16 knocks between them in India, and while Vaughan doesn’t call for any changes to the England top seven for the fifth Test, he does think that performances in Dharamshala should have consequences for selection ahead of the 2024 English summer.

Bairstow is set to play his 100th Test in the series finale but has had a quiet series in India. The Yorkshireman made a successful return with the bat from a broken leg in the 2023 Ashes, averaging over 40 with three fifty-plus scores. In India, he has fallen between 25 and 40 in five of his eight outings with the bat.

Foakes is also yet to reach 50 this tour, though has been involved in a pair of century stands and has generally kept tidily. There remain concerns over his ability to bat with the tail in particular.

“Jonny Bairstow plays his 100th Test in Dharamsala and I am delighted about that,” wrote Vaughan in The Telegraph. “It’s a great triumph of resilience and, even in terms of sentiment, I believe that if you get to 99 caps you deserve the moment of your 100th. However, you can’t escape that he could miss out on his 101st. He hasn’t played well enough across the 10 Tests he’s been back in the side, especially in India.

“I also look at the ‘keeper, Ben Foakes. He has kept magnificently in India, but I get the sense that he’s not in the inner circle with this setup and that his batting still doesn’t suit them. The last Test was a good example: he is great in partnership with a batsman, but struggles kicking on with the tail. Once again, his batting might not be enough however good his keeping is. England could give the gloves back to Bairstow at No 7, where his batting is more dangerous, or they could look elsewhere. They’ve got a strong crop of young keeper-batsmen coming through, like (the other) Ollie Robinson, Jamie Smith and James Rew.

“I like that things will be a bit more cut-throat, with consequences this week. At least one of the top seven will be dropped for the summer, which might be the moment that triggers them into action. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you get a century this week you are playing in the next Test, and someone else misses out for Brook.”

Harry Brook, who averages more 60 in Test cricket, missed the tour of India for personal reasons. He is expected to slot straight back into the XI in England’s next Test assignment, at home to West Indies in July,

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