Yorkshire CCC have bemoaned the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) decision to refuse permission for Jonny Bairstow to play in this week's crucial four-day County Championship decider against Middlesex. Jason Gillespie's side travel to Lord's on Tuesday (20 September) seeking to become the first team to win three successive titles since they did it themselves between 1966-68.
However, they will have to soldier on without the services of wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow. Along with colleague Joe Root, the 26-year-old was made unavailable for the victory over Durham and emphatic defeat to Somerset in addition to the final clash with Middlesex after a busy international summer in which he featured throughout both Test series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
He made eight further appearances in white-ball cricket and was named in both squads for England's upcoming controversial trip to Bangladesh, in which the tourists will play three tour matches, three ODIs and two Tests from 3 October before moving on to India.
"The Yorkshire County Cricket Club would like to express its disappointment after the ECB refused the club's request for Jonny Bairstow to participate in the final Specsavers County Championship fixture of the season," Yorkshire complained in a statement released via their official website.
"Yorkshire members, supporters and other stakeholders in the game will wonder why this permission has been refused. Having been rested for 16 days since he last played for England, Bairstow said he felt refreshed and wanted to play for Yorkshire against Middlesex at Lord's, where the club has the opportunity of winning three successive County Championships, a feat last achieved almost 50 years ago.
"Although not a centrally contracted player for the last 12 months, Yorkshire required clearance from the ECB to play Bairstow. The club's director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, contacted the England hierarchy, but has been refused permission to play Bairstow by director of England cricket Andrew Strauss and England coach Trevor Bayliss."
Responding to Yorkshire's protestations, which also pointed to the fact that other centrally contracted England players set to travel to Bangladesh and India had been permitted to represent their counties in crucial matches and that Bairstow had played just five days of cricket in five weeks, an ECB spokesman told the BBC: "We understand Yorkshire's disappointment but stress that Jonny Bairstow's absence has been known for some time.
"Director of England cricket Andrew Strauss talks regularly with all counties about England international players and it was made clear in July that Bairstow would not be available for the last two games of the season. As was explained, it was felt important that he has a period to rest and recover ahead of the winter tours to Bangladesh and India – which will see England cricketers face three ODIs and seven Test matches in the space of two-and-a-half months."
In addition to Bairstow, Yorkshire, who today announced a new one-year contract for veteran fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom, will also be without Adil Rashid against Richard Scott's Middlesex. While announcing their 13-man squad yesterday, the defending champions revealed that their leg-spinner had incredibly "requested to be rested ahead of a busy winter schedule with England".
That was seemingly confirmed by captain Andrew Gale, who wrote on Twitter: "Yes, he wants to rest. That's his decision. I'll take 11 lads on the field who will give everything to win."
However, Rashid has now released his own statement revealing that his controversial decision was largely due to an ill family member recently being admitted to hospital.