Wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow could miss the entire upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 as England want him to take the gloves for his county side Yorkshire when he makes his return to first-class cricket, ahead of the Ashes starting from June 16.
"When it became clear that he would not be fully fit for the start of Punjab Kings' season on April 1, the franchise decided he would miss the campaign. A formal announcement is expected in the coming days," a report in The Telegraph said.
Bairstow had an not-so-great IPL 2022 season with Punjab, making only 253 runs from 11 innings, averaging just 23 at a strike rate of 144.57. Last year on September 2, he broke his left leg, suffered multiple fractures in left fibula and dislocated his ankle in a freak accident on a golf course.
That incident forced the batter to miss England's victorious T20 World Cup campaign in Australia as well as the Test tours of Pakistan and New Zealand. Before suffering the freak injury in 2022, Bairstow had slammed six centuries in 10 Tests, averaging 66.31 while batting at number five and six, including smashing twin centuries against India in the Edgbaston Test in July last year.
The report further mentioned that Bairstow will return to playing competitive cricket for Yorkshire through Division Two of the County Championship, though a date is not yet clear.
"He is likely to play County Championship cricket before England take on Ireland in a four-day Test at Lord's on June 1. Yorkshire have fixtures on May 4 and 11, before a block of matches in the Vitality Blast.
Appearing in at least one of these championship fixtures preferably both is viewed as crucial to Bairstow building up his fitness for the first-class game," it said.. Whenever Bairstow is fit, the England think-tank is keen on him taking over wicket-keeping duties for Yorkshire, so that he can don the same role for the Test team during the Ashes.
In his absence, Ben Foakes had been majorly doing wicket-keeping duties. "He seems set to bat in the middle order, not as an opener, where Zak Crawley is under pressure in the Test team.
It is possible that Bairstow could begin his return for Yorkshire as a specialist batsman, before then taking on the gloves too," the report further said. "Any decision on whether he takes the gloves for his county will depend on Yorkshire and the player. But Bairstow has always been keen on keeping wicket," it concluded.