Jonny Bairstow set to miss IPL and target Ashes return to England Test team as he recovers from broken leg | Cricket News

Jonny Bairstow looks set to miss this year’s Indian Premier League and instead focus on a Test return for England in time for the Ashes as he continues his recovery from a broken leg that sidelined him all winter.

Bairstow suffered the injury in a freak golfing accident in September, seeing him miss out on England’s T20 World Cup win in Australia, as well as Test tours of Pakistan and New Zealand and white-ball series’ in South Africa and Bangladesh.

The 33-year-old had an operation to insert a metal plate and has been working hard on his rehabilitation, including net practice at Headingley and a gradual return to running work.

But his spell on the sidelines has already stretched past the six-month mark and, with the IPL due to start in less than two weeks, reports suggest he will not be joining up with the Punjab Kings.

It looks like Bairstow will instead continue his rehab with Yorkshire, with the hope of being ready for the start of the red-ball summer from April 6, as he targets a possible England return in time for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on June 16.

Bairstow, speaking to Sky Sports last month, revealed that his injured leg was “improving” and “we’re on the right track”, but added: “I don’t have a return date as yet.”

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Ringside for Chris Eubank Jr versus Liam Smith, England’s Jonny Bairstow stays neutral on his fight verdict and also gives an injury update

Head coach of the England men’s Test side, Brendon McCullum, said in December that there was “no doubt” that Bairstow would return to his side when fully fit, albeit admitting his comeback would provide a “very big migraine ” over selection.

Bairstow was in sensational form with the bat last summer, scoring four centuries in five innings against New Zealand and India to kick-start the team’s run of 10 wins in their last 12 Test matches.

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Former England captain Michael Atherton says Harry Brook’s performances have given the Test selectors a ‘real problem’ as Jonny Bairstow’s return to fitness looms

But, the last six of those Tests have seen fellow Yorkshireman, Harry Brook, deputise for Bairstow at number five in the batting order and he too has hugely impressed, cracking four centuries in his first six appearances.

After the recent 1-1 series draw in New Zealand, McCullum has said the team will be “brave” in selection but added: “What we can’t do is try and crowbar people in.”

England Test captain Ben Stokes is heading to the IPL this week, despite concerns over a knee injury that curtailed his role as a bowler in New Zealand, as are fast bowlers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer. Brook and Joe Root are two other England Test players who will take part in the tournament.

McCullum is confident the trip will not threaten Stokes’ impact on the Ashes. “I don’t think he’s jeopardising it,” McCullum said after England’s last Test in Wellington.

“The Chennai [Super Kings] set-up is excellent in looking after their players. They’ve a very good medical team and he will be well looked after. I’ve no concerns that the skipper will be totally looked after.”

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