If one English player that has made the most out of his rich form off late, it has been Jonny Bairstow. The wicket-keeper batsman finally looks like the player that is set to be a reckoning force in world cricket. After the 2017-18 Ashes, the player has gone on to another level and it looks like this is the moment for the talented individual.
The 28-year-old saved England’s blushes against New Zealand on Day 1 of the ongoing 2nd Test at Christchurch. Bairstow’s unbeaten 97 was the saviour act for the visitors, who ended the day on 290/8 after another top-order failure that saw them being reduced to 94/5 at one stage.
Jonny Bairstow's 97* and a Mark Wood's 52 help England get to 290/8 on the first day of the final Test after Tim Southee and Trent Boult rattle the top order. #NZvENG SCORECARD ➡️ https://t.co/HUvzTsvGZK pic.twitter.com/Sa5G4rupBh
— ICC (@ICC) March 30, 2018
On a day when New Zealand’s two of the finest quicks Trent Boult (3/79) and Tim Southee (5/60) dictated the proceedings, Bairstow came in and snatched that momentum from the Kiwis with a supreme effort. This, in turn, will please the English management, who have seen the player being on a groove of scoring big runs against the BlackCaps on the tour.
England will feel reasonably happy after a disastrous first two sessions and they know that they are in a chance to add more valuable runs with Bairstow in fine touch. The player is looking for his 5th career Test ton and also his maiden century against New Zealand in the longest format.
A COMPOSED INNINGS
This was an innings that was blended with a lot of maturity and responsibility. Bairstow looked to make most of his stay count and it paid off as he made sure he stayed till the end. He looks like a player that is highly talented and could work hard to take his Test average towards 50. One thing for sure he needs to be promoted higher in the order.
His 97-run knock on Day 1 off 154 balls was quite a quick one. He smashed 11 fours and a six. The highlight of the day was his 95-run stand with Mark Wood (52) that helped the team get some breathing space. The recalled Durham fast bowler, who was playing his first Test since July posted a maiden half-century.
The middle-order Test batsman has been a revelation in ODIs after making the most of his versatility. He has settled as an opener alongside limited overs specialist Jason Roy. Bairstow’s two centuries in the ODI series was a special delight where he took the game to the opposition and thrived after being given the license to kill.
Despite the team going forward with regular wicket-keeper Jos Buttler in ODIs, Bairstow has justified his place as a regular batsman. In the Test team, there is hardly anybody better than Bairstow, given what he offers to the team. Given he is at the best moment of his career, the player will hope to be a mainstay in this England set-up.
The English player scored just a century in the 2017-18 Ashes and despite getting starts, was culpable of throwing his wicket away. Since then the revelation came in the ODIs with knocks of 137 and 104 against the Kiwis. Now this is a perfect moment for him to make it count and get a Test hundred after battling it out on the pitch against an in-form attack.
A substantial score will give him a lot of impetus and confidence going into the next big assignment which is against India in a gruelling 5-match Test series starting August 1.
SIMILAR STORY FOR BOTH SIDES
New Zealand like in the first Test had England on the mat and much credit to Tim Southee and Trent Boult. The duo, who picked all 10 wickets in England’s 58 all-out at Auckland, was stellar to watch here too. They accounted for all eight wickets to fall and this, in turn, has seen the duo pick 22 wickets in the series already. A dream effort right?
Kiwi bowlers have done good work against the West Indies earlier and now England. This has become a regular phenomenon. For England, their top order struggles have been a sorry tale of late. On Thursday too, their batsmen failed to get good scores despite a few of them getting the starts. Well, one may wonder was Joe Root in that list? Take your guess!