Jason Gillespie: Jonnny Bairstow to get nod over Matt Prior in Melbourne

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: KEEPER CONTEST: Jonny Bairstow, left, and Matt Prior in training at the MCG this week KEEPER CONTEST: Jonny Bairstow, left, and Matt Prior in training at the MCG this week

Jason Gillespie expects Jonny Bairstow to get a bonus Christmas present in the form of the gloves for the Boxing Day Test.

With England 3-0 down against a rampant Australia and the Ashes already gone, there are calls for changes to be made for the fourth Test at Melbourne’s MCG - one of the biggest dates on the cricket calendar with a 100,000 sellout on the first day at least.

England’s long-term wicketkeeper Matt Prior is one of those under pressure mainly due to a horrid run of form with the bat that dates back to the start of the home series against New Zealand in May.

In his last 19 Test innings, the Sussex man has only scored one half-century with five ducks.

Yorkshire’s first-team coach Gillespie also believes Prior’s glovework has started to suffer.

The former Australian fast bowler has watched a lot of Ashes cricket this winter as part of his role as a popular panelist on Sky Sports’ review show The Verdict each night of a Test match.

“I think he might play at Melbourne. My gut feel is that Jonny’s going to play and they’ll give him a good, long run as keeper,” he said.

“I think they’re leaning towards (Jos) Buttler for limited overs cricket as a keeper/batsman, but I definitely think they’re leaning towards Jonny long-term in the Test team to bat at seven and keep.

“If conditions dictate, he could also bat six and keep. I think they’d prefer him to bat seven though.

“When he plays for us, he’ll slot in at five where he normally does – that will be no different.”

But, at the age of 24 and with very little experience as an international wicketkeeper under his belt, is Bradford-born Bairstow ready for that role?

“It’s a good question. I think he’s on par if not maybe a little bit more developed as a keeper than Prior was when he was picked for the Test side,” said Gillespie.

“Through sheer will and hard work, Prior’s turned himself into a fine Test keeper. But he’s just dropped off a little bit now. I can see Jonny going that way. He certainly won’t let anyone down behind the sticks.

“Right now, I think he’s still developing his keeping. What’s really pleasing is that he’s putting the time and effort in. They want a wicketkeeper who can have a big impact with the bat, and that’s certainly what Jonny can do.

“I’ve got no doubt that the time and effort he’s putting in will pay him back.”

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