Jonny Bairstow Exclusive: Test Cricket Is 'Still The Purest Form Of The Game'
Jonny Bairstow insists that Test cricket is still the pinnacle - despite being axed from England's upcoming tour to New Zealand.
The 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman averaged less than 24 with the bat during England's failed campaign to snatch The Ashes away from Australia.
He'll miss the two Test matches against New Zealand beginning on Nov 20, but isn't ready to give up on his red-ball career.
Speaking to SPORTbible at the team reveal for The Hundred earlier this month, Bairstow said Test cricket remains the "purest form of the game".
He explained: "Tests. Still the purest form of the game.
"All the games in England this summer were sold out in Tests, so I think that in England we're very fortunate to have such a fan base that still love Test cricket.
"And if we can keep playing Test cricket in England and keep getting the crowds like we have done this summer, then there's no reason why that can't keep flourishing."
While England disappointingly missed out on The Ashes, Bairstow admitted that the highlight of the summer was his side triumphantly lifting their first World Cup.
"Definitely winning the World Cup," he said, before adding: "It's hard to top that.
"I mean, it was a four-year process that we went through to try and, firstly, become No 1 in the world and then we set our sights on winning the World Cup.
"Fortunately, we recovered from an okay start to then go ahead and play the best cricket in the backend of the competition."
Bairstow might have missed out on his place in the Test side against the Black Caps, but the England star will have a major part to play in The Hundred.
The Hundred will introduce a 100-ball cricket tournament in July 2020 and pits eight city-based franchise teams, both male and female, against one another.
Bairstow, who has signed for Welsh Fire, said that the eagerly awaited competition marks a "really exciting time for English cricket in general."
He continued: "There's been a lot of work that's gone into this event today.
"The whole development of The Hundred: obviously, eight teams, seven different cities... hundred balls, a completely new concept.
"It's going to take a little bit of time for people to get use to, but it's something that we've now got it on terrestrial TV and that's a huge part of it.
"Hopefully, opening it up to audiences that haven't necessarily, potentially, participated in cricket before and seen it.
"We saw when it went on terrestrial with the World Cup final how wide it went and how widespread cricket has become in the country.
"And I think that if we can develop The Hundred and play The Hundred as well as we can, there's no reason why it can't compete with other massive, massive tournaments around the world."
Jonny Bairstow was speaking at the Team Unveils for The Hundred. Fans can head to The Hundred for the latest news and priority access to tickets.
Featured Image Credit: PA