Cricket

Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow is hoping to help lead an improved fielding performance from England in Johannesburg.

Jonny Bairstow ready to stand up and be counted for England

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Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow is ready to be England's leader in the field, despite admitting he is not yet the finished article behind the stumps.

Bairstow has played 17 Tests as a specialist batsman and just five with the gloves, but knows he has a responsibility to set the tone as England seek to put a host of dropped catches behind them in Johannesburg this week.

England let anywhere between five and 10 chances slip in the drawn second Test in Cape Town - depending on your definition of 'catchable' - and know they must do better this time.

Bairstow's batting is in rude health, with 300 runs and just two dismissals in his four innings to date, but he has also dropped two catches and missed a tough stumping.

Nonetheless, he predicts better handiwork from the tourists at the Wanderers and knows he is key to that.

"It comes with the territory. As a keeper coming through the ranks your job description is to be the leader of the fielding outfit," he said.

"Naturally, that's my job and that's what I've grown up doing.

"On the whole perhaps we didn't do as well as we could have done last week. But it was just a slight blip. That's all it was.

"Fielding has been a priority ever since Trevor (Bayliss, head coach) took over, to be honest.

"At no point was anyone taking anything lightly or anything like that. So going forward it is as per - we concentrate on our batting, bowling and our fielding. We take pride in what we do. We're a young side and that's what we're about."

Bairstow did not dispute Bayliss' assertion that he was effectively learning on the job as a Test gloveman, but is confident he is moving in the right direction.

"I've only kept in five Test matches...I'm still bedding into Test cricket as a wicketkeeper," he said

"I'm pleased with the way it is going. As Trevor and (assistant coach) Paul Farbrace have mentioned, it is a work in progress. But you're only going to learn by doing and that's the way I've always done things.

"I'm moving forward in my career now and hopefully people will be able to get behind me and the contributions that I'm making with my batting and hopefully that will bring me more confidence too."

South Africa are once again without their pace spearhead Dale Steyn, missing through injury for the fifth time in seven Tests.

At 32, questions are being asked about his longevity at the highest level but Proteas coach Russell Domingo has no long-term concerns.

"I don't think it is the end of Dale Steyn's career at all," he said.

"It's obviously disappointing not to have Dale, he's the best bowler in the world but there's not too much we can do about it.

"But he's a great athlete. These things happen and I'm sure he'll get through it."

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