FORMER England captain Michael Vaughan is wary of putting too much pressure on the shoulders of Jonny Bairstow despite the young Yorkshire wicket-keeper/batsman’s meteoric rise to prominence.
The precociously-talented stroke-player is in the 17-man squad for England’s six-match limited overs tour of India, which starts this weekend and features five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match, after a stellar season with the White Rose county.
He struck his maiden first-class century (205) against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in May before scoring his maiden one-day ton (114) against Middlesex at Lord’s two months ago. Behind the stumps, Bairstow claimed 47 dismissals in first-class cricket last term and he made a hundred for the England Lions against Sri Lanka.
The 22-year-old York-based player scooped the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Cricketer of the Year for 2011 award last month after a season in which he scored 1,213 first-class runs at 48.52.
Bairstow then capped off a stunning year by smashing 41 off 21 balls to claim the man-of-the-match prize on his England debut in the fifth one-day international with India in Cardiff in September.
However, Vaughan is adamant Bairstow has much to learn and is keen to lower the expectation levels surrounding the young starlet.
Media pundit Vaughan, who grew up in Sheffield and lives in Baslow, told The Star: “We don’t want to get too excited just yet. Jonny has had one good innings against an Indian side who were without a lot of their stars on a damp night in Cardiff. He handled it brilliantly and I think he is going to go a long way in the game.
“It was a very good debut and as good as you will see but I just think we have to be careful of building him up too much. Let’s just give him time to develop. He is only a young lad and he has got areas of his game he can improve upon. He has just got to keep enjoying his cricket and I’m sure if he does that he will be successful.”
Bairstow toured Australia and the West Indies last winter with the England Performance Programme and Lions squads but this will be his first senior tour abroad and Vaughan is convinced he will rise to the occasion.
“The first tour to India is a real hard one,” he said. “It is totally different from anything else you experience in your career. It is new for Jonny but he has got the talent. He hits the ball as sweetly as I have seen a young player hit it and he has that mentality and inner drive to do well.
“I like what I see in him. He gets runs when they count. He doesn’t get them when they are easy.
“I knew he would play for England. It was just a matter of when he would play. To be honest, he has played a little bit sooner than what I expected. I thought he would be a year or so away but he has just forced his way in there.”