Bairstow, Root receive Strauss backing

England

Erstwhile captain Andrew Strauss has defended batsman Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who – bar one telling century – have failed to bring meaningful contributions to England's retention of the Ashes.

Erstwhile captain Andrew Strauss has defended batsman Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, who – bar one telling century – have failed to bring meaningful contributions to England's retention of the Ashes.

Root scored a big century in the Lord's fixture, while Bairstow cherished an attacking cameo in Chester-le-Street. Their rest of their performances have, otherwise, been nominal at best.

Opener Root has flanked his ton in London with a mere 80 runs in seven innings, while the right-handed Baristow's stint in the middle order has brought just 203 in as many knocks.

"I suppose Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow haven't quite got the runs that they would have liked in the series but England are three-nil up in the series. They are a settled and successful side and I'm sure that Andy Flower will want to give those guys one more opportunity to make a really meaningful contribution," said Strauss.

"We've seen one from Root so far, with that 180 at Lord's, but Bairstow needs to make a meaningful score, just to nail down that number six spot. Bairstow went after Nathan Lyon straight away in England's second innings and I think that's the way he has to play at number six.

"That's one of the reasons that he was picked in the side in the first place – to play aggressively. We probably haven't seen enough of that so far. It's early days for Bairstow but he just needs that one breakthrough innings; once he's done it I think he'll relax into the role and he's going to get another opportunity at The Oval to do that."

The makeup of the bowling attack for the fifth and final Test, meanwhile, remains in the balance ahead of Wednesday's start at The Oval in London. The hosts have the lanky Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn pushing for selection, but which right-armers – Tim Bresnan, James Anderson or Stuart Broad – might be rested has not yet been established.

"I think they might consider giving James a break because Tremlett will be a very potent force at The Oval given the bounce there; it is tailor-made for someone like him," added Strauss.

"Given that Tim bowled quite well they might think that if Anderson is not quite 100 percent fit then maybe he's the guy to be rested, rather than dropped. I think that first Test match took a huge amount out of him – he bowled a lot of overs."

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