Jonny Bairstow scored consecutive Test centuries; His association with debutant Jamie Overton helped England recover from 55-6 to 264-6; The third Test continues on Saturday from 10.15am, live on Sky Sports Cricket; The game starts at 11 am
Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton
England’s thrilling win on the final day at Trent Bridge, impressive as it was, had a somewhat disappointing air.
England’s surprising turnaround on day two at Headingley, another spectacular Jonny Bairstow hundred back in the middle, was anything but.
Bairstow and Ben Stokes’ passionate partnership on that final afternoon in Nottingham lacked only one thing: danger. The test match, until tea on that final day, had been full of it, with England equating heading into the final session with a nervous 160 needed from the final 38 overs.
Just over an hour later, he secured a series victory in the most emphatic manner, with as many as 22 of those overs to spare, let alone deliveries. Was it all a bit too, I whisper, ‘easy’?
That certainly can’t be leveled in England on Friday. Nothing was easy, particularly in the case of the higher order, obliterated by the most brilliant of Trent Boult’s opening spells. Stokes responded briefly before becoming one of two wickets to go down in the first over of Neil Wagner’s series as England fell apart at 55-6. Danger.
It’s what every great drama needs. Stokes’ heroics at Headingley in 2019 were such not only because they took on the Aussies and it was fun to see Nathan Lyon repeatedly brought into the stands (pleasant as that was), but because England lost their ninth wicket with 73 runs still required. and the Ashes on the line.
Sir Ian Botham’s inspired win at the same venue in the 1981 Ashes remains so revered due to England being labeled 500/1 outsiders with the bookies (five later, behind by 212) before Beefy released the ball around the park to set up a famous victory.
Few would have heralded Edgbaston in 2005 as ‘the greatest test’ if Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz hadn’t brought Australia within two runs of victory before the latter cajoled a Steve Harmison keeper behind.
Bairstow and Jamie Overton’s brilliance in the fading afternoon sun on Friday is all the more remarkable precisely because of the precarious situation they found themselves in. It’s not the first time England have gone 55-6, it won’t be the last, but such a position that has never before brought about an uninterrupted association of 209 runs, in just 223 deliveries.
“It takes a lot of courage to play that way, but also a lot of skill,” Sky Sports’ Mark Butcher said.
“Anyone can throw the bat, but you could end up with 10 or 20 against bowling of that quality.
“But to go out and attack them like Jonny Bairstow has for the second time in consecutive innings along with a guy on his debut is just amazing.”
It cannot be said that this Brendon McCullum-Stokes leadership combo is not delivering on its promise of a new and aggressive approach to Test cricket.
It’s one thing to do it on a flat pitch, short bounds at Trent Bridge, impressive as that still was, and quite another to stick to that edict at 55-6 in the face of some supremely skilled bowling. But Bairstow has certainly bought.
“The way Brendon has been, he just said you have to put yourself in the game,” Bairstow said. sky sports post-play.
“It’s an exciting way and it’s the way I’ve always played my cricket and sometimes to my detriment.
“And you talk about growing the game, that’s how you grow the game by letting people connect with personalities and that’s what we’ve been doing in the last few games.
“It’s an acceptance of everyone, from the head coach, to the guys making their debut, to the guys coming into the team.”
Bairstow’s century was one of his highest, his undefeated 130 from 126 balls containing 21 boundaries. But fit, and a highly valued member of England’s World Cup-winning cue ball setup, it could be argued that he knows the drill.
Overton, in his debut, doesn’t, making his contribution of 89 out of 106 deliveries just as mind-boggling, with Bairstow himself describing his innings as “exceptional”.
At this time, Bairstow labeled his Trent Bridge pitch the best yet for England, but the latter, 10th in Testing and scored on home soil, has quickly surpassed him.
“It feels amazing, you know how much this place means to me,” Bairstow added.
“I love representing this team and I’m really excited about the journey we’re starting to go on as a group. You want to show up at every game and you want to contribute a lot.”