England skipper Joe Root (r) tends to Jonny Bairstow (l) © Getty Images
England skipper Joe Root (r) tends to Jonny Bairstow (l) © Getty Images

Johnny Bairstow, England’s wicketkeeper and a crucial cog in their middle order, suffered a finger injury on the first day of the four-day warm up match against Cricket Australia XI. Bairstow hurt himself when he took a ball from Chris Woakes on the bounce after Ryan Gibson let it go. He had to leave the field to be treated by the physio on his left hand. He is back for now keeping wickets for England again. England’s reserve wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, not in the first XI for the match, kept wickets in Bairstow’s absence.

Bairstow has been England’s first-choice wicketkeeper for some time now. One can only hope the injury is not serious enough to keep him out of the first Test. Bairstow’s finest year was 2016, when he set world records for most dismissals (70) and most runs (1,470) by a wicketkeeper in a calendar year.

Bairstow’s return will surely be a sigh of relief for England. They will be without the services of Ben Stokes. With the top order not looking solid, England will need Bairstow to bail them out more often than not during the series.

The English batting line up was bolstered by the return of the Moeen Ali, who had missed the first two warm-up matches. Jake Ball had damaged  an ankle ligament at Adelaide last week, but is expected to be fit for the first Test. However, Steven Finn has not been as fortunate: he has flown back home after a knee injury.

England were able to grab two wickets after Bairstow’s setback. At this point CA XI are 168 for 6. Woakes has claimed 5 of these wickets. This four-day match played in Townsville is supposed to be the last warm-up match ahead of the first Ashes Test for England staring on November 23. England have rested James Anderson, but has gone in with more or less a full-strength side.