They’ve come a long way since their days of playing together for Yorkshire’s Academy in the Yorkshire Premier League.
And Joe Root has backed Tykes teammate Jonny Bairstow to cope with an Australian onslaught in the third Ashes Test, which gets underway at Edgbaston today.
Bairstow, recalled to the England side at the expense of fellow Yorkshireman Gary Ballance, averages over 100 in the County Championshp this season and Root said: “It’s never easy to come into such a big series - but he’s in superb nick, with five hundreds under his belt.
“He’ll be desperate to carry on the great form he’s shown this season so far.
“Jonny will be so excited and he couldn’t be in better form... he’ll be determined to emulate that on the highest stage.”
Six years ago, the pair put on 200 for Yorkshire Academy in a nine-wicket win over Barnsley CC and shared a century stand for England against New Zealand at Headingley baack in 2013.
“I want to see him show everyone what he can do,” Root, who scored a superb century against Australia in the first Test in Cardiff, added.
“And I see no reason why having someone energetic and confident, as he is now, won’t give everyone a lift.”
England certainly need one, after their 405-run defeat at Lord’s squared the series and gave Australia a vital confidence boost. At his home ground of Edgbaston, Ian Bell - who has passed 50 just once in his last 12 innings - will bat at three, with Root moving up a place to four.
“Ian’s record is fantastic, and he’s playing at his home ground,” Root said.
“Last time the Ashes were in England he was outstanding, and I’m sure he will want to put a marker down and get form that he will stay in for the rest of the season.”
After a difficult start to the tour in Cardiff, Mitchell Johnson returned to his tormenting best at Lord’s and will hope to continue his psychological assault on England’s bowlers in Birmingham.
“He comes at a different angle and has a lower arm than a lot of the guys which makes it difficult, you have to knuckle down and work hard,” said Root.
“But its wrong to single out one man. In Cardiff he got only two expensive wickets so it is all about putting him under pressure.”
Mitchell Starc, who played with Root and Bairstow at Yorkshire, admitted Australia would “go hard” at the out-of-form Bell.
“Jonny has been in form in county cricket but we will have a talk about him,” the fast bowler added.