Why Bairstow is not first choice for Champions Trophy

England have been outstanding in one day internationals since their disastrous World Cup campaign in 2015. In particular, the batting has been a real strength. So much so that very good players are being kept out of the team. Chief amongst these is Jonny Bairstow, who has been in wonderful form in all formats. But is there a basis for his selection ahead of members of the established 11?

England top 6 since the World Cup in 2015
England top 6 batsman in ODIs since April 1st 2015 (minimum of 10 innings).

Bairstow has indeed been impressive in one-day internationals, averaging 43.36 since April 2015. But is this form so earth shattering that he is a must-pick for England? His strike rate of 95.97 is only greater than Joe Root’s, who often acts as the anchor of the innings. Furthermore, he has scored 50 plus runs in 26.7% of his innings. This is the lowest out of the top 6 batsmen. He hasn’t converted any of his starts into a century, which is perhaps a recurring flaw in his game.

We also combined batting average and strike rate. This is not a perfect metric but gives an indication of an ODI batsman’s contribution to their team. Bairstow falls near the bottom of this list.

However, he is ahead of Jason Roy, who has struggled of late. He was dropped by the Gujarat Lions on April 16th and didn’t play another IPL game. Since returning he has registered scores of 20, 1 and 8 for England. But I would argue that he has enough credit in the bank to be persevered with. He has played a big part in England’s transformation in limited overs cricket. With Alex Hales, he forms one of the most destructive opening partnerships in one-day cricket.

Could Bairstow replace a bowler?
England have conceded the most runs per innings amongst Champions Trophy teams (in ODIs since April 1st 2015).

What about playing Bairstow at 7 at the expense of a bowler? This may be risky. As shown by the above table, bowling may be England’s weak link. Of the 8 Champion’s trophy teams, they concede the most runs per innings (260.4).

Tail-end contributions
England tail end batsmen (7-11) in ODIs since April 1st 2015 (minimum of 10 innings).

Also, England are fortunate enough to possess an outstanding tail. Although only averaging 23 since the world cup, Moeen Ali is in good form. Chris Woakes, who usually bats at number 8, averages a whopping 36 with an impressive strike rate of 98. If England do lose further wickets, Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett are very capable of scoring runs.

Conclusion

Taking all this into account, I wouldn’t expect Bairstow to break into the team for the Champion’s trophy. England are currently a winning team and it would be dangerous to disrupt the balance. Of course, if there is an injury, Bairstow should be the first in line. For now though, he will have to wait and continue to be a good problem for the England management.

Note: All stats were obtained from ESPN cricinfo stats guru.