Bairstow hails Kallis as 'fantastic addition' for England

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07 Jan 2021 | 10:34 PM
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Bairstow hails Kallis as 'fantastic addition' for England

Bairstow, who is expected to make his Test return after more than a year, is looking forward to working with the class of Kallis, whom he rates as the "best ever allrounder"

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England's Jonny Bairstow said the addition of South African great Jacques Kallis as batting consultant is a "fantastic addition" to their squad during the Sri Lanka tour.

The 45-year-old Kallis has flown in from South Africa to join England for their two-Test series in Sri Lanka starting January 14.

Bairstow, who is expected to make his Test return after more than a year, is looking forward to working with the class of Kallis, whom he rates as the "best ever allrounder".

"I think it is a fantastic addition, someone of Jacques' calibre," Bairstow told reporters in a virtual chat from his hotel room in Hambantota.

"The things he has done within the game, in my eyes he is the best allrounder that there has ever been.

"Someone that batted at the top of the order, caught absolute flies at slip and got so many wickets as well."

Kallis scored 13,289 runs at an average of over 55 in 166 Tests and took 292 wickets with his pace bowling during his 19-year-old international career.

Only India's Sachin Tendulkar and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting have scored more runs than the former Proteas all-rounder in the five-day format.

Bairstow, 31, believes he has a lot to learn from the South African legend who is in isolation in Sri Lanka and should join the squad on Friday.

"There are so many different aspects you could speak to him about. I am really intrigued to spend more time with him and gauge and understand the process," said Bairstow.

"Because to string all three bits together so successfully, over such a long period of time, is a skill in itself.

"It's great to have Jacques around and I am really looking forward to spending some time with him and working with him."

The England team, led by Joe Root, underwent their second training session in Hambantota on Thursday after an early setback when allrounder Moeen Ali tested positive for Covid 19.

Bairstow says IPL experience key to ace Sri Lanka spin test

Bairstow reckons that his experience of facing top spinners in the Indian Premier League has prepared him well for Sri Lanka's pitches ahead of his return to Test cricket.

Bairstow, a regular in the limited-overs England side, last played a five-day game in December 2019 but is expected to make the starting XI in the two-Test series starting in Galle on January 14.

Bairstow, 31, scored a century in his last one-day international and then amassed 345 runs in the IPL Twenty20 tournament for Sunrisers Hyderabad between September-November.

Bairstow said playing top spinners including Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Indian players in the Hyderabad squad for six to eight weeks in the IPL was "great, to be honest".

"Coming into similar conditions, we haven't got a long run-in," the wicketkeeper-batsman told reporters after his team's second training session in Hambantota.

"So calling those experiences, whether that be when we went to Bangladesh, when we went to playing India or another couple of tours - they all come into it."

Bairstow, who has played 70 Tests at a batting average of under 35, said he enjoys batting at number three but was open to playing in any position in the order.

"I've batted in different places over a period of time. Wherever it is I do bat, if I do get the nod, hopefully I'm well enough equipped to make the best of that opportunity," said Bairstow.

"(The) last time I played in Sri Lanka, I got a hundred batting at three. I think I've batted a few times at three and generally done alright there. If that is the case, then bring it on."

The touring England team have slowly hit pace after an early setback when Moeen Ali tested positive for the coronavirus following the team's arrival on Sunday.

Bairstow said team members have stayed in touch with Moeen, who is under isolation, through text messaging.

"Everyone's together. That's been a strength of the team, the unity. It's been a real key throughout this whole period of Covid," he said.

Sri Lanka will be back home Friday after their 2-0 series loss in South Africa, but will not have to undergo the 14-day quarantine as they travel from "bubble to bubble".

Bairstow said living in a bubble was tough, with England slated to play 17 Tests in 2021.

"Hopefully when the vaccine starts getting deployed, it will obviously make things slightly easier," he said. "But bubble life is not easy."

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EnglandJonathan Marc BairstowJacques Henry KallisEngland tour of Sri Lanka, 2021

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