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International Cricket – Cricket: Who should replace Jonny Bairstow for England?

England's preparations for the third and deciding Test against South Africa were dealt a major blow when Jonny Bairstow was ruled out of the showdown at The Oval with a suspected broken leg.

Bairstow, one of England's senior and in-form batters and flourishing in Brendon McCullum's new-look Test side, suffered the freak injury while playing golf.

It not only rules him out of Thursday's final Test of a thrilling summer but also means he will miss next month's T20 World Cup in Australia.

Brook braced for Oval debut

What

England v South Africa, Third Test

Where

The Oval, London

When

Thursday, 8th September – Sunday, 12th September, 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Cricket

Odds

England 21/20, South Africa 5/2, Draw 5/2

Jonny Bairstow's disappointment is, of course, someone else's opportunity and it's odds-on that YJB's Yorkshire colleague Harry Brook will get the nod for The Oval.

And few would argue against Brook playing on Thursday, indeed many have been arguing his inclusion in the side for a while. Former England skipper Mike Atherton was adamant Brook should have been selected for the first Test against New Zealand when his county form was electric.

The problem, of course, is that Ben Stokes' team has become a winning team – five out of six Tests this summer – and has a batting engine room of Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Bairstow and Ben Stokes which has become set in stone.

But Brook deserves his chance for promotion into a side playing for the series after a win apiece in the first two matches. England are 21/20 to win at Surrey's HQ, the South Africans 5/2 with the draw a 5/2 chance.

The former England Under-19 captain has represented England at T20 level and the 23-year-old has been on the radar of the Test selectors for a while.

He did his chances of a call-up no harm at all with a thrilling 140 at a strike-rate of 82 (so right up McCullum's street) playing for the Lions against South Africa at Canterbury last month and is the second top runscorer in the top division of the county championship.

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Bairstow will be a miss

Presuming Brook comes in at No.5 at The Oval he has big boots to fill.

There hasn't been a batter in better form this year than Bairstow, the only man worldwide to score over 1,000 Test runs in 2022.

His year started memorably with a century at the SCG in the one Ashes' Test England didn't lose on an otherwise awful tour.

Another one followed in the Caribbean in the opening Test against West Indies and he then rattled up four tons in five innings during the height of the summer. That's six centuries in a single year and all at pace, making him one of the most destructive Test batters playing right now.

YJB's bad break also leaves T20 hole to fill

Of course, Bairstow's injury, sustained apparently while slipping off a tee box playing golf at Pannall, has repercussions beyond the final Test match of the English summer.

On the day Bairstow suffered his accident England's squad for next month's T20 World Cup was announced with the Yorkshireman pencilled in to open the batting alongside skipper Jos Buttler, himself injured at the moment, after Jason Roy was axed.

England are currently 4/1 to win the tournament in Australia – the Aussies are themselves 3/1 and India are 3/1 – but their prospects would have been that much rosier with a red-hot Bairstow going big at the top of the innings.

England's T20 head coach has options within the squad with Phil Salt the obvious fix. He'd be a like-for-like replacement for Roy who could, of course, be called back up though that would seem a retrograde step given his poor form.

One of the other big names in the mix is Alex Hales, one of the biggest-hitting openers in the English game but seemingly a forgotten man after blotting his copy book with former captain Eoin Morgan three years ago.

During this summer's Vitality Blast Hales scored 374 runs at a strike rate of a mind-boggling 193, yet there seems no appetite to recall him.

Moeen Ali or Liam Livingstone are other options from within the current squad while James Vince is another player who could be drafted back in.

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