Jos Buttler has withdrawn from England's Test squad in anticipation of the birth of his second child, meaning that Jonny Bairstow will be the one to take the gloves at the Oval when the fourth Test begins later this week. Buttler kept brilliantly throughout the first three games but failed to score the big runs an English audience is growing impatient for. These last two Tests represent a real opportunity for Bairstow to re-claim his spot behind the stumps full-time.
With bat in hand, Bairstow has looked imposing and assured so far in the India series, but has failed to kick on having made comfortable-looking starts. The numbers suggest, however, that these big scores could be around the corner. When playing as a specialist batsman, Bairstow averages 27.41 with one hundred and 1,316 runs. When playing as England's wicketkeeper, he averages 37.85, with five hundreds and 3,028 runs.
It suggests that the pressure is slightly lifted from Bairstow's run-making when he also dons the gloves, and occasional stints lower down the order have given him the license to play his more natural, aggressive game. With Ollie Pope coming into the side, Bairstow may well move down from his spot at number five. If England can make the sort of start they did in their first innings at Headingley, the Yorkshire man and England's exciting lower-middle order can stamp their authority on the rest of the series.