On their last tour of Australia, England suffered a humiliating 5-0 whitewash and it was at this point that Bairstow’s mind turned to rugby.
The Yorkshireman, a fly-half in his youth, resisted the urge and has since become one of England’s key players, scoring five centuries in 100 matches in all formats.
‘When you’re going through difficult times, like I was after the 2013-14 Ashes, you start thinking about different bits. Rugby is a huge passion of mine, a lot of my friends play,’ Bairstow told BBC Sport.
‘When all the lads are throwing a ball around, you go and play some touch and have an amazing time doing something you stopped when you were 17. You have thoughts of “shall I, could I, what would happen if?”.
‘I don’t know who I would have played for. It wasn’t a thought that lasted for a long time.’
Bairstow has enjoyed a superb 18 months for England, emerging as one of the team’s most consistent batsmen and putting questions over his wicket-keeping firmly to bed.
The 28-year-old failed to score a Test century last summer – being dismissed for 99 against South Africa at Old Trafford – but hit a stunning 141 in the one-day series victory over West Indies.
Continuing his impressive run this winter in Australia will certainly play a significant role if Joe Root’s side are going to defend the urn but the English batsmen are sure to face a stern test.
Fast bowler Pat Cummins said last week: ‘Hope you practise your bouncers because we’ll be bowling a lot of them.
‘No one really likes it if you’ve got real pace and real accuracy. They play on slower wickets, not as much bounce, so over here… it’s one of our biggest strengths.
‘We grow up on these wickets and as bowlers getting bounce has always been really important.
‘I think we’re lucky that there’s a few of us who are all pretty tall and get a bit of bounce and like to bowl with a bit of pace.
‘Hopefully the wickets have a bit of pace and bounce in them, there’s nothing like getting your adrenalin up and then running in trying to bowl short.’