With Ben Stokes’ retirement, Jonny Bairstow remains the only cricketer in England squad who is playing all the three formats regularly. He was part of the three-match Test series against New Zealand before gearing up for the rescheduled Test against India at Edgbaston.
He then took part in the six white-ball matches against India as well (three T20Is and as many ODIs) and is currently representing England in an ODI series against South Africa at home.
While he understands how the punishing schedule can impact the players, Bairstow says he will continue to play all three formats as long as possible.
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I’m one of the last all-format players,” Bairstow told Sky Sports on Friday. “But naturally there are challenges, we’ve seen that over a period of time now. We only had to look at the Test series this summer when there was the one-day squad in Holland at the same time. I think even if you look at the back end of this summer as well, there are the seven T20s in Pakistan that pretty much overlap with the last Test match. And it even goes back to the last World Cup where then you fly straight to the Ashes with a week’s preparation after quarantining, then straight into the Test match.
“But you know me well enough now: I’ll be trying to play all of them for as long as possible. I’ll be going all out for as long as I can. There might come a time when you do have to make a decision for different reasons, but that’s part and parcel of life and cricket, but in the near future I can’t see me making a choice because I’m loving being part of all three squads. They’re all individual squads and they’re great to be a part of. It’s exciting. You go into a new one and you’ve got a freshness and new faces and energy around them, because you’re going into a new format,” he added.
Bairstow agreed with Stokes’ sentiment but says unless the governing bodies act on it, players have no other choice but to comply.
“I don’t think we have a choice, do we?” he said. “The schedule is the schedule. It’s difficult to say if you want to play less but Stokesy has a point in some ways about the overlapping games that there are. There used to be lead-ins to series and training days before games, but there are back-to-back games coming up now.”