Geoffrey Boycott tells Ben Stokes to drop England star for fourth Ashes Test

England legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott has urged Ben Stokes to make a ‘brave’ decision and axe Jonny Bairstow ahead of next week’s fourth Ashes Test.

The buccaneering wicketkeeper batsman became one of the poster boys for the new ‘Bazball’ era last year with a series of outstanding displays but he was cut down in his prime following a horrific leg break, sustained while playing golf.

That setback prevented Bairstow from being part of England’s victorious World T20 campaign but he was parachuted straight back in to the Test team at the first available opportunity in place of Ben Foakes.

The 33-year-old has struggled to recapture his best form, however, with his performances behind the stumps having cost his side dear in the defeats at Lord’s and Edgbaston earlier in the series.

Bairstow, one half century aside, has fared little better with the bat and the controversial run out incident during the second innings at Lord’s appears still to be weighing heavily on his mind.

And Boycott, reluctantly, believes his fellow Yorkshireman must be taken out of the firing line as England head to Old Trafford looking to square the series at 2-2.

In his column for the Daily Telegraph, he wrote: ‘Some people say never change a winning team. I disagree. My experience of playing at the highest level for so long and my common sense tells me that Jonny Bairstow is not fit. Last year he suffered an horrific injury with a broken leg in two places and damaged ligaments.

‘He isn’t moving 100 per cent right and is short of competitive batting and wicketkeeping. He has been selected on last summer’s marvellous match-winning batting, but at this moment in time is a shadow of his best. 

‘England took a calculated gamble and it hasn’t worked. In three Tests he has dropped catches, missed a stumping and can’t score any runs.

‘It is very sad and outwardly he may show he is upbeat and full of exuberance, but when you fail on the big stage in the full glare of publicity there is nowhere to hide and deep down it affects your confidence. Someone needs to be brave for him and take him out of the limelight.

‘When Jonny is at his best he is a better plus for England than Ben Foakes. But at the moment he is dropping things and not moving properly. So sorry, take him out of the pressure cooker. He can come back later but he has got to get himself right. When he is picked ahead of Foakes, his keeping has to be safe and he has to score runs. He is not doing either. I don’t take any pleasure in it. I like Jonny. I would pick him every time ahead of Foakes when he is playing well.

‘All this stuff about picking your best keeper is rubbish but at the moment Jonny is not safe with his keeping and is rusty. That is the problem.

‘It needs some courage now from Stokes to leave Jonny out. England have to win at Old Trafford and not focus on the Oval and maybe creating history.’

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