England batsman Jonathan Bairstow has welcomed the competition of his Yorkshire teammate Gary Ballance in the Ashes squad he has exclusively revealed in an interview with GiveMeSport.
The pair are set to battle it out for the number six spot in the batting line-up while Michael Carberry and all-rounder Ben Stokes are also in the 17-man touring party with a chance of filling the position which is currently held by Bairstow.
The Bradford born middle-order batsman turns 24 tomorrow at the end of a remarkable season that saw him lift the Ashes urn at The Oval after competing in four Tests against the Australians. He scored 203 runs at an average of 29 per innings until all-rounder Chris Woakes was preferred in an experimental final Test of the summer.
Ballance is yet to make his England Test bow but will travel to the southern hemisphere on the back of a successful season, helping his county to second position in the LV= County Championship. The Zimbabwe born star has scored over 1,100 runs and hit four centuries, including a superb 148 at The Oval today, days after the Ashes squad was announced.
Bairstow himself has chipped in with two half-centuries since he returned to play for his county and he is excited for the challenge ahead.
“I’m really pleased to get the call to the squad so that’s a good thing. We know they’re going to come pretty hard at us when we get down under so I can’t wait to get out there,” Bairstow exclusively told GiveMeSport.
“Of course having a taste of it makes you want it even more and the experience of the four games over here so hopefully score some runs in the warm-up games out there to put myself in the best position I can do.”
Ballance himself will turn 24-years-old on the second day of the opening Ashes Test Match which starts on the 21st November in Brisbane. He is bound to provide stiff competition for a place in the team but speaking on the second day of the final County Championship game for Yorkshire, Bairstow admitted that is something he is relishing.
“He’s played really well this year and he’s a really good kid as well so he is really looking forward to going away and I’m sure he’ll do well.
“It’s professional sport isn’t it and of course there will be friendly rivalry, that’s life and you have to go with it so it’s great to have him in the squad along with (Joe) Rooty and Tim Bresnan who will be around too that are doing Yorkshire proud.
“It’s fantastic that you look around and its players that have come through the Lions and the EPP squad that are coming through into the main squad and it’s a really exciting bunch of players and I’m sure we’ll do well when we arrive down there.”
The England squad fly out to Australia on October 23rd with the final Test finishing on 6th January meaning the Test tour will last 11 weeks Bairstow has told GiveMeSport he is hoping to replicate lifting the urn down under.
“It will be one of the longest tours I’ll have been on, being three months in Australia but the country is really similar to here, it’s a great place to go and I’m sure it’ll be a good experience.
“The presentation and lap of honour at The Oval is something that I’ll always cherish and remember for a very long time so it’s brilliant to be back today, even though there’s not much of a crowd here this week but it is fantastic memories.”