Jonny Bairstow believes he is at the peak of his powers as he prepares to join England’s Ashes squad for the third Investec Test against Australia.
Bairstow has been picked in place of Gary Ballance after some excellent displays for Yorkshire this season, which have included five centuries in the LV= County Championship.
England have struggled at the top of the order in recent matches and Alastair Cook’s side paid the price on Sunday as Australia romped to a 405-run victory at Lord’s to level the series at 1-1.
Bairstow last played Test cricket in the final match of England’s 2013-14 Ashes defeat but he made a series-winning 83 not out against New Zealand in a one-day international last month.
“I am very pleased to have been called up,” Bairstow said. “Consistency-wise I think I am in my best form and striking the ball well and hopefully this will continue.
“Playing international cricket is a great challenge but that is why we play the game.
“If you don’t challenge yourself you will never find anything out about yourself.”
Ballance will head in the opposite direction, returning to Yorkshire after managing only 134 runs in eight Test innings this summer.
The left-hander enjoyed a promising start to his Test career, scoring three centuries and two fifties in his first 10 innings for England, but runs have been harder to come by of late.
“He has scored a heck of a lot of runs over a short period of time,” Bairstow said.
“But it is just one of those disappointing things and, hopefully, I will be able to get in and score runs.
“I have been very positive at the crease this season and will try and take that into the Ashes series.
“You cannot say how you will play until you are there but I will certainly relish the challenge.”
Bairstow will bat number five, with Ian Bell and Sheffield’s Joe Root moving up to three and four in the order respectively.