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Ivo Tennant at West End
July 12, 2012
Yorkshire 83 for 3 v Hampshire
Poor Jonny Bairstow. Ever since he was selected for England in mid-May, he has been expected, willed even, to score runs. Whether he is appearing in Test cricket, in T20 or, as now, in a championship fixture, out of form and in conditions wholly alien to his strokeplay, he is a failure if he does not make a sizeable contribution.
In ten innings since that debut at Lord's, he has mustered just 131 runs. He did not add to this tally at West End.
The major incident of the rain-hit day - a sad one from all but Hampshire's perspective - was that Bairstow was dismissed for a golden duck. It was not a propitious time to bat, Hampshire having won the toss on the washed-out opening day of this match and been delighted to put Yorkshire in.
Bairstow came to the crease when Phil Jacques edged Kabir to Michael Bates. Since he was chosen to play for England at Lord's in May, his scores in his ten innings have been 16, 0 not out, 4, 68, 18, 17, 2, 5, 1 and 0. In that time he was unsettled by some short-pitched bowling from West Indies' Kemar Roach and his technique against the quicks has been analysed far and wide.
True, most of these innings have been played in t20 cricket, but even there he has failed individually to shine in a successful Yorkshire side which reached the quarter-finals by topping the group.
It is axiomatic that he is out of form, but the first ball he received would have dismissed many a batsman in touch.
Kabir Ali, for once fully fit, his troubled knee "behaving itself" as he put it, had taken the new ball and he swung it at a full length at fast medium. He pitched up his first ball to Bairstow, found late movement off the pitch and defeated a defensive push. Bates took a straightforward catch.
England's selectors gave Bairstow their blessing to play in this fixture, one involving a lengthy journey, constant rain and conditions far from ideal for any batsman feeling his way back to prominence. Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan are regartded as ahead of him in the pecking order for the first Test at The Oval.
The other wicket to fall was that of Adam Lyth, whom James Tomlinson had leg before in the fourth over. Joe Root batted throughout the 26 overs that were bowled, and will resume - always assuming there is a resumption - four runs short of a half century. He will have to contend with a refreshed Kabir, who had spoken to Craig White, the former Yorkshire all rounder and now Hampshire bowling coach, as to how best to dismiss Bairstow.
"I was trying to bowl in-swingers but I didn't know what was happening," he admitted. "And if I don't know what is happening, the batsman won't either. It is a slow pitch but the ball is nibbling around a bit. This is my fifth championship match of the summer and I am feeling fine."
So another day of high summer and another wholly accurate forecast of rain: for Nigel Gray, Hampshire's head groundsman,it is the wettest cricket season he can recall. He is not the only one.
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