London, Nov 11 (ANI): England team director Andy Flower has challenged Jonny Bairstow to seize his opportunity in Sydney this week if injury rules Matt Prior out of England's last warm-up game before the first Test of the winter Ashes series at Brisbane from November 21.
Bairstow had been set to sit out a third consecutive match, having fallen behind Michael Carberry and Gary Ballance in the battle for batting places, until Prior felt a tightness in his left calf on the last day of the rain-ruined fixture against Australia A in Hobart.
According to The Guardian, Flower suggested that Prior's injury was a greater concern, at least in the short-term, than the latest flare-up of Kevin Pietersen's dodgy right knee, which led to the batsman taking a cortisone injection, and challenged Bairstow to take up the reins if Prior fails to show up, adding that Bairstow is getting paid a good salary to do so.
Flower dismissed suggestions that the tour would be tough on Bairstow given that the young player has failed to stake a strong enough claim to the problem No.6 position in the first four Tests of the home series in the summer, saying that Bairstow is a 'lucky young man' as he is getting the chance to explore a great country, meet people and broaden his mind in every way.
According to Flower, Bairstow is very hungry to play Test cricket, adding that he needs to work on his mental and physical skills and be ready for when the chance comes again.
Flower also said that Bairstow would be 'chomping on the bit' to grab the chance when it appears, adding that he is heading in the right direction under the mentorship of batting coach Graham Gooch and former cricketer Bruce French. (ANI)