Jonny Bairstow does not expect England to lack cohesion in World Cup defence

Jonny Bairstow is confident England’s 2019 World Cup winners will have no problems getting the band back together ahead of next month’s title defence in India.

In the four years since England lifted the trophy in unforgettable fashion at Lord’s, 50-over cricket has slipped down the agenda with two T20 World Cups pushing the shorter format into the spotlight while the ‘Bazball’ revolution has kept Test matches front and centre.

But ODIs are about to reclaim top billing, with a four-match series against beaten finalists New Zealand starting in Cardiff on Friday to kick off the tournament build-up in earnest.

England’s big guns are reuniting too, with Ben Stokes’ retirement U-turn meaning nine of the World Cup-winning squad are involved.

England were triumphant in the 2019 World Cup.
England were triumphant in the 2019 World Cup (Nick Potts/PA)

In 36 matches since the World Cup win, Stokes has played just 10, Chris Woakes 13 and Joe Root 15, but the spine of the side is going nowhere for the next couple of months.

Bairstow, who has turned out 21 times despite spending 10 months in recovery from a badly broken leg, said: “It should be good fun. It’s great to have a group that has got a wealth of experience coming back together.

“Naturally there’ll be conversations, ‘you’re not playing much 50-over cricket together’ and all this stuff. But I don’t think there’s too much worry about cohesion or people not having played together for two months, six months, 12 months, 18 months, whatever it may be.

“When the group has played together for seven or eight years, something like that, it’s one of those where you just fit back in and slot back into your roles. We’ll rock up to Cardiff and see all the lads. It’ll be just like normal.”

England are well fancied to defend their crown, just behind hosts India who are fixed as favourites, and Bairstow believes the journey his team went through last time around could be a source of vital experience.

“It wasn’t just plain sailing,” he recalled.

“Having to win four out of the last four games in order to win the competition, we’ll be able to call on those experiences in the big moments in the big games during the World Cup. Everyone wants to go back to back. Everyone does.

“It’s something you dream of. But we’re under no illusion that in India it’s going to be very tough. There’s going to be some upsets and there’s going to be some interesting pitches, I’m sure.”

Jonny Bairstow hitting out in T20 action against New Zealand.
Jonny Bairstow starred during the T20 series against New Zealand (Tim Goode/PA)

Bairstow was left nursing pain in his right shoulder after top-scoring with a rampant 73 during the final T20 against New Zealand and did not reappear in his listed role as wicketkeeper in the second innings.

England are not overly concerned about the severity but will be minded to be careful with his workload if the problem lingers.

The man himself was bullish about his condition, insisting: “It’ll be absolutely fine. It wasn’t like I went down in a heap or anything like that.

“It’s just we’ve got a lot of cricket ahead of us and if there’s something that you just need to keep an eye on or you feel something, then it’s better to take slightly more precaution than not.”