Jonny Bairstow has signed a three-year contract extension with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
The 29-year-old held talks with the club towards the end of the season, however a busy international calendar and, more specifically England’s winter tour to Sri Lanka, as well as a desire to seek further assurances on the club’s future direction, meant his current contract was in danger of expiring.
But Bairstow has signed a deal which will see his 18-year affiliation with the club continue for a further three years, keeping him at Emerald Headingley until the end of 2021.
“It’s another high profile, high-class, world-class international cricketer pledging three further years to the club and it is fantastic news," said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
"He’s a great role model that we can use for our younger players. His ability on the field is unquestionable and, when he comes back to play for us, he’s a match-winner for us.
"It’s fantastic to have Jonny connected with the club and, although we might not see too much of him in playing terms, for him to be associated to and connected with the club is great.
“He's a talented cricketer that people want to watch. He’s an entertainer and also such a quality player. He’s proved himself to be world class and it’s important he’s playing for Yorkshire now and nobody else.”
He debuted for Yorkshire’s second team aged 17 in 2008 and such was his remarkable rise, he made his First-Class debut in impressive fashion against Somerset in June the following year, cracking 82 in his second innings.
A prolific run-maker and widely regarded as one of the best wicket-keeper batsman in world cricket, Bairstow said: "I’m very pleased to have signed my extension.
"It has taken a little while to get it sorted with a few bits going on, but I’m really pleased to have signed the extension.
"Hopefully we can build on last year because there are still things we need to do in order to get back to the top of the County Championship. We did quite well in one-day cricket but at the end of the day we want to be winning competitions."
He signed a three-year deal in December 2015 and has scored over 11,000 First-Class runs in his career to date, over 6000 of those for the White Rose - 92 matches for Yorkshire at an average of 51.15, 15 hundreds and 35 half centuries.
He helped England to a Test series win over India the summer just gone and Yorkshire to two Championship wins away at Essex and Lancashire with key contributions.
He has scored six Test centuries to date and averages 37.71.
Bairstow’s recent IPL call-up emphasises his burgeoning status on the global stage. The two-time Specsavers County Championship winner and two-time Ashes winner, secured his first Indian Premier League contract after being purchased by the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the auction earlier this week.
That means he is unlikely to feature for the club from late March until late May, as he fine tunes his white-ball game ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup
“He thrives on a challenge and doesn’t shy away from it,” Moxon added.
“If you’re a top player you need that attitude and he rises to every occasion. When he’s got a point to prove he’s at his best and that’s why he’s so successful.
“He’s got the chance to be a superstar. There’s no doubt he’s a star but he’s got the chance to be a superstar, particularly if he goes well in the IPL in 2019.
"He’s that talented in my opinion, his capabilities make him top of the game in all three formats. There’s no end to the potential that Jonny can go on and achieve in his career.”
Bradford-born Bairstow, whose relationship with the club runs deep, added: "The fans in Yorkshire never go anywhere and they are the people you want to keep impressing and play for.
"They are the people putting their hands in their back pockets and using their own money to come and watch us play. That’s why we play the game, to entertain the people that want to come and watch us.
"Hopefully the crowds can keep growing and we’ve got the hundred-ball competition coming in as well so it’s an exciting transition for English cricket.
"At the moment I only play a few games a year (for Yorkshire) and I’m sure there are plenty of people saying that I should be playing more.
"But with the international schedule the way it is – look at this summer and the Ashes, a World Cup and we go again straight after that. It’s a hectic schedule.
"It’s not just physically exhausting it’s mentally demanding as well with all the pressures that come with it.
"I always enjoy coming back, but it’s going to be really different this year, losing a few of the guys and potentially playing against some of the people you’ve had some fantastic memories playing with at Yorkshire. But it’s an opportunity to create some new ones with the new faces we’ve got in at the club."
Bairstow actively enquired as to the club’s future direction with the departure or retirement of several key or senior players, as well as the average age of the playing group dropping to 25.12. Moxon was all too pleased to explain the club’s thought process going forward.
“He showed an interest in the direction the club were looking to take in the coming years,” added Moxon.
“There have been a few personnel changes in recent years but he just wanted to be sure that our plans for the future matched his and his desire to be involved in a winning team.
"I believe, and the club believe, that we’ve got a bit of a process that we’re going through and we’re in a bit of a transitional period, but we’ve got some exciting and talented young players that we need to give opportunities to in order to ensure that Yorkshire are competitive for the future.
“The positive we have with someone like Jonny is that when he comes back to us he’s a great role model and he gives our younger players someone to aspire to.
"That helps the coaches to identify the qualities of Jonny and Joe (Root) so that we can try and replicate their traits in our younger players and try to make them as good as those two.”