Punjab Kings sweating over availability of Jonny Bairstow for IPL 2023

Will Jonny Bairstow be fit to play the IPL? Punjab Kings are anxiously awaiting an answer to that question, and the IPL will start in about three weeks. ESPNcricinfo has learned that Kings is awaiting medical clearance from the ECB for Bairstow, who is recovering from the bizarre leg injury he sustained last September.

Bairstow broke his left leg and dislocated his ankle on 2 September, days before the third and final Test of England’s home series against South Africa. He slipped while playing golf with friends in Yorkshire, suffered multiple fractures in his fibula requiring a plate inserted when he underwent surgery in London a few days later, and suffered ligament damage as well.

Since then he has missed all the cricket England has played, including the T20 World Cup where he would open with his captain Jos Buttler. He has also missed tours to Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh as well as the ILT20 where he was due to play for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders.

The ECB’s timeline had previously suggested that Bairstow could make his return at the IPL, which begins March 31. Bairstow has been in constant contact with Kings’ medical staff, who are believed to be optimistic about his progress.

However, the franchise needs final approval from the ECB and awaits whether all or part of Bairstow will be available for IPL, and what kind of workload it can handle. While Kings awaits confirmation from the ECB, they have shortlisted a handful of possible replacements, but have not yet found a player.

Bairstow recently started running again for the first time, posting a video to his Instagram page on Feb. 27 showing him completing intervals of about 30 seconds on a running track. It is believed he is progressing as planned. At this stage there is no doubt about his participation in the Ashes – which begins in Edgbaston on June 16.

The injury fueled spectacular form in Test cricket for Bairstow: he had scored in ten Tests in 2022 1061 runs, and was the top scorer in the format. He still finished fourth on that list in 2022, and had the most centuries for the calendar year with six.
Kings kept Bairstow this season, having bought him at the 2022 mega auction for INR 6.75 crore (approximately US$825,000). He scored last year 253 runs in 11 innings, averaging 23 with a success rate of 144.57, with two half-centuries.

Bairstow is one of three England players at Kings, with Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran. Livingstone, who is on track to return from his own knee injury in the IPL, was retained after impressing in 2022 as Kings of Curran made the most expensive purchase in IPL history, netting INR 18.50 crore (approx. US$2.256 million) paid auction in December.