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Jon Culley in Chester-le-Street
May 5, 2014
Durham 62 for 1 (Stoneman 48*) trail Yorkshire 589 for 8 dec (Gale 124, Lyth 104, Williamson 97, Bairstow 95) by 526 runs
If the achilles tendon injury afflicting Matt Prior does not heal pretty soon, and assuming Jos Buttler's glovework does not reveal appreciable benefits from his brief encounter with Peter Moores at Old Trafford, then the debate over whether Jonny Bairstow begins the summer Tests as England wicketkeeper might be fairly short.
The Yorkshireman is the man in possession in any event, having replaced an out-of-form Prior for the last two Tests in Australia. Some might say it is for others to prove they are worthy, rather than for him to feel he must defend his position, yet Bairstow himself clearly feels he must bolster his own case, rather than leave anything to chance.
Back in the Yorkshire side for the first time in this Championship season, having been ruled out thus far because of the broken finger he suffered in a pre-season friendly, he contributed handsomely to Yorkshire's continuing dominance here, turning his overnight 22 into what would have been his side's third century had umpire Jeremy Lloyds been in a more generous frame of mind.
Instead, Lloyds gave Bairstow out leg before to Chris Rushworth for 95, a decision that prompted discussion in the television studio, where the Sky team mulled over replays that suggested the ball might have cleared the stumps had it not thudded into Bairstow's back leg. The batsman himself did not look convinced, certainly, and rubbed his upper thigh pointedly as he began the walk off.
Afterwards, following the usual script, he spoke about doing as well as he can for Yorkshire and letting the rest take care of itself, but then made reference specifically to his two brilliant innings against South Africa at Lord's in 2012 as setting the standard to which he not only wishes to aspire but believes he can, with a little less inhibition.
"I just need to play for England a bit more like today if I'm honest," he said. "That's something I haven't necessarily done. I've not necessarily gone out and played the way Jonny Bairstow has done in county cricket. That's something I want to do a bit more of.
"The way I played at Lord's against South Africa in the first and second innings was how I want to go about my cricket and always have done."
It might take more than a fresh surge of confidence to convince those with doubts over his batting technique -- doubts he did little to quell in his four innings at the end of the Ashes series -- but perhaps the new faces in England's coaching staff will help him to address those without compromising too much the way he wishes to play. Having Yorkshire's former assistant coach Paul Farbrace on board will doubtless help in that respect.
Clearly, the Bairstow who replaced the disgraced Kevin Pietersen at Lord's in 2012, answering the call with two superb attacking innings of 54 and 95, is the one Peter Moores and company would like to see again.
He did not dominate in the way he can here -- his boundary count was relatively modest -- but he still looked in reassuringly good order. He and Andrew Gale, his captain, put on 198 for the fourth wicket, putting Yorkshire in full control. Gale, having taken the brave decision to leave himself out of Yorkshire's previous match, found the fluency that he had lacked on the opening day, attacking short and wide deliveries with much more conviction and while he may have enjoyed some of his previous 15 first-class hundreds more, there was a wide smile on his face when he completed this one, as if a burden had been lifted.
A half-century from Adil Rashid added further to the angle of Durham's bending morale. Graham Onions, strangely out of sorts, finished with two wickets in two balls, but when Gale declared at 589 for 8 Yorkshire had amassed the third highest score made on this ground.
The only flaw in the day from Yorkshire's point of view was their failure to take more than one wicket in 19 overs with the new ball, at the end of which Mark Stoneman, Durham's reliable opener, was on 48, with the air of a man intent that it is only the start.
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