Jonny Bairstow has welcomed Ian Bell back on tour - even though the new dad in the England camp may be about to take his Test place again.
Bairstow had to make way, despite making 95 and 54 against South Africa at Lord’s, for the reintegrated Kevin Pietersen at the start of this tour.
Assuming the last-in-first-out basis pertains again, after Bell missed last week’s second-Test victory to fly home for the birth of his first child, Bairstow accepts he may be vulnerable once more.
While he could make only nine this time at the Wankhede Stadium, Bell - who did not quite make it home in time for the birth of Joseph William - nonetheless had the chance to adjust to fatherhood with his wife Chantal and first-born, before returning to England duties in time for this week’s third Test in Kolkata.
Both he and Bairstow were at nets yesterday at Eden Gardens, where the tourists took part in their first training session since their famous series-levelling win at Wankhede six days ago.
Bairstow reported his middle-order rival in appropriately jovial mood, and ready to get back to his day job.
“He’s absolutely delighted. It’s obviously a fantastic moment for him in his life,” said the young Yorkshireman.
“We’re all really pleased for him, to have had the little one.”
Bell’s return has added to the feelgood factor as England battle back in this four-match series.
“It’s really good to get him back, and he seems very pleased to be back.
“The morale and confidence are obviously very high at the moment.”
As for his own place in the team, Bairstow has learned from personal experience already that there is no sense fretting about selections which will be made by others.
“Those decisions are obviously out of my hands - I have no say,” he said.
“But I’ll be delighted if I do get selected, and I’m working hard in training and in the nets. That’s the situation in professional sport, people coming in and out all the time.
“You learn to deal with it, growing up when you come through playing for your county and then for the Lions, then one-dayers and up to the Tests.”
He did not find it easy when Pietersen’s return put him back on the fringes of the team, but he understood.
“It’s obviously desperately disappointing,” he said of his omission.
“But for the sake of the team, what’s best for the balance of the side, then it was going to happen.”
Whoever bats at number five for England in the match starting on Wednesday, Bairstow acknowledges that they will face no easy task against India’s spinners.
Alastair Cook and Pietersen’s wonderful record-equalling centuries in Mumbai helped England to a 10-wicket victory, as Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann outbowled their hosts too.
Footmarks in the bowlers’ run-ups here betray the fact the pitch for the third Test was used for a Ranji Trophy match barely three weeks ago.
Despite groundsman Prabir Mukherjee’s assurances yesterday that it will be a fair surface after all, the controversy surrounding India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s public preference for one that turns from the outset suggests England’s batsmen will once again face a stern test of technique.
“Those first two Tests were very tough ones, but we’re really looking forward to the third one here at Eden Gardens,” said Bairstow.