JONNY Bairstow believes a lack of competitive match action won’t affect intensity when England meet the West Indies next month.

The Yorkshire star has been back in training at Emerald Headingley for the last couple of weeks in preparation for the belated beginning of the home summer schedule.

The first of three Tests will be played at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl on July 8, before which an extended squad - to be announced imminently - will head into a two-week training camp at the same venue.

A warm-up match will form part of the camp, but England’s players will not have had any game time against external opposition since mid-March in Sri Lanka.

The West Indies are in exactly the same boat. They are currently in camp at Emirates Old Trafford, having not had any game time since early March, when they also toured Sri Lanka.

Bairstow said: “We’ve got a camp where we will be playing against each other down at Southampton for two weeks, so I’d like to hope the intensity the guys will be bringing to that camp will be as high an intensity as Test cricket is going to be.

“We’ve got some guys who bowl at some serious pace and guys who want to be proving themselves.

“I don’t think the intensity side of things is going to be a problem.”

Bairstow didn’t tour Sri Lanka in March, so his last match action came on February 16 during the final T20 against South Africa at Centurion. He scored 64.

It is no wonder the wicketkeeper-batsman has loved getting back to work at Emerald Headingley under the gaze of Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale, with help from assistant coach Rich Pyrah and England’s fielding coach Carl Hopkinson, the former Sussex batsman.

“It’s been good fun and really enjoyable,” he said. “There’s not been any bowlers as yet.

“At Headingley, we’ve got David Willey and Adil Rashid, who are preparing more with the white ball.

“I’m going up to Durham (today), where you’ve got Mark Wood, Stokesy (Ben Stokes) and Brydon Carse. That will be good to face those guys.

“From a red ball point of view, I’ve been facing the dog stick.

“With the weather in Leeds, we’ve done a few sessions inside with the bowling machine, which has been good to groove your technique in many ways.

“Then, at 9:30am, it’s been nipping around outside with brand new balls that haven’t been used all summer.

“Carl has also been up doing some keeping work.”

Bairstow, 30, says he has made the most of an unexpected break. Before coronavirus hit, he was due to spend April and May in India playing in the IPL with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

He was a regular in England’s winter of white ball cricket in New Zealand and South Africa, but he only played one Test match, having been left out of the side.

“It’s been a good break to think about a lot of different things and spend a bit of time at home with the family,” he said.

“It’s been a chance to let the body refresh and to reset mentally. Physically, I’ve had the chance to do things that I’ve not done in a while.

“With facilities not available at the gym, it’s been a case of getting out on to the road for some running and cycling - things that go back to real basics.”

There is absolutely no thought in his mind about prioritising white ball cricket over Tests, and similarly no thoughts of prioritising a certain role - playing as a batsman only, for example.

“Red ball cricket is something that’s been a massive part of my career, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue to be the case,” he said.

“I’d like to think I’m coming into a stage of my career where I’ve experienced a lot of things over a period of time.

“I’m very much looking forward to being available for selection and going back into a camp, that’s going to be fantastic.

“I just want to play. I’ve always said that.

“To be honest, over a period of time, I’ve been really happy with my keeping. That’s been a bit that, at the start of my career, people questioned but have stopped speaking about over the last couple of years.

“Statistics-wise, mine are very good. So there’s no reason why that isn’t an area which I would want to be coming back into.

“Similarly, with my batting, I’ve been pleased with the way the training’s been going here at Yorkshire.

“I’m not ruling anything out. I want to keep my options open.”

Bairstow was speaking on an England media Zoom call, and he was asked whether he believes playing behind closed doors home Test matches gives the West Indies an advantage or not.

“I think it’s a level playing field,” he added.

“It’s the internal motivators that you will really see come through - the will and the want to come running in when it’s windy, a bit chilly and not so nice.

“It’s going to be something you have to get used to, but at the same time there are certain places we’ve played at around the world in Test cricket that haven’t had a massive crowd. I don’t think it will be too dissimilar to those.

“We are very fortunate in the home summer that we get to play in front of some amazing crowds and get some amazing support.

“It’s going to be a little bit different, but everyone is understanding of the situation and the circumstances we are facing.

“If you rewind six or eight weeks ago and people said that we were going to get some cricket at the back end of the summer behind closed doors for people to watch on telly, then I think people would have taken it.

“I watched the golf over the last few days, and I was completely captivated just because there was some live sport on - similarly with the rugby being back in the southern hemisphere.

“It’s been great to see some live sport back on the TV.”