Bairstow suffers highs and lows against Sri Lanka
But the debate about whether Bairstow should keep wicket for England intensified when he dropped Dimuth Karunaratne on the second day of the third Test.
At tea, Sri Lanka were 62 without loss in reply to England’s first innings 416, a deficit of 354 runs.
Left-hander Karunaratne was 30 not out and Kaushal Silva 31 not out.
But Karunaratne should have gone for 28 when he got an edge off all-rounder Chris Woakes only for Bairstow to drop the two-handed waist-high chance.
Even allowing for the possibility that Bairstow was mentally and physically tired after his more than six-hour innings, and that the ball ‘wobbled’ a touch before reaching him, it was still an extraordinary miss by a Test keeper.
It is not the first time this series that Bairstow has grassed a routine chance -- although Friday’s miss was the most glaring.
For all that Bairstow has repeatedly insisted he wants to keep wicket for England, he is now posing some awkward questions for the selectors who must be tempted to deploy him as a specialist batsman.
Friday saw Bairstow receive good support from Woakes (whose 66 was his maiden Test fifty) in a seventh-wicket partnership of 144.
Bairstow, having faced 251 balls including 18 fours, walked back to a pavilion where the spectators included the cricket great Garry Sobers.