England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day August 18, 2012

Bairstow credits Lions' part


Jonny Bairstow has credited his experience playing with England Lions as one of the contributory factors in his impressive innings of 95 in the Lord's Test against South Africa.

Bairstow was dropped from the England Test side after the series against West Indies when Kemar Roach, in particular, appeared to highlight some deficiencies against the short ball. Recalled for this Test, due to the unavailability of Ravi Bopara and the dropping of Kevin Pietersen, Bairstow responded with an innings of courage and skill that rescued England from a precarious 54 for 4 and revived their hopes of securing the victory that would see them retain the No. 1 Test ranking.

Bairstow scored 139 for England Lions against Australia A last week, dealing confidently with an impressive pace attack that included Mitchell Johnson. As a result, Bairstow came into the Test believing he had the technique and temperament to deal with the barrage of short balls that he knew would come his way.

Lions games are not universally popular in English cricket, due to the scheduling of some games towards the end of the domestic season, causing counties that may be striving for promotion or to avoid relegation to be weakened. But Bairstow's words support the England team management's insistence that such matches play an important role in the development of international players.

"I was confident in the way I was playing coming off the back of the Lions game," Bairstow said. "Mitchell Johnson and Jackson Bird are world-class bowlers. It was really good to go out and test yourself against bowlers like that, and the two spinners as well were obviously a test on a turning Old Trafford pitch.

"I did perhaps go through a bit of a dry spell after the series against West Indies. When you get exploited in some sort of way, you go away and look at things. You can't just change via the click of a finger. It goes through practice, through stages. You're going to fail sometimes.

"But at the same time, there were no drastic changes that I made. You work on your strengths, and look at little things you can improve on. I went away and worked with Martyn Moxon and Graham Thorpe over the last couple of weeks and made some little improvements."

Bairstow admitted his runs in this Test had been the hardest he had ever scored and praised Ian Bell's calming influence in a fifth-wicket partnership of 124 that stabilised the England innings after a poor start.

"They're a world class attack," he said. "Playing out there in a Test against the No. 3 side in the world is never going to be easy. The likes of Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Kallis and Tahir are formidable bowlers. There isn't a single bowler in that attack that isn't world-class.

"Obviously it was a tough period when I came in, so I was happy to ride that. Ian Bell played fantastically well as well during that period and that partnership. When you walk to the crease and you're under the pump a little bit, it's something I quite enjoy. But Belly's experience and expertise was a very calming influence."

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, was even moved to praise Bairstow's innings as "the best 95" he had seen and, despite falling just short of a maiden Test century, Bairstow insisted that the pleasure at his important contribution far outweighed the regret at narrowly missing out on the personal landmark.

"I was pleased with the way that I played," Bairstow said. "I was delighted to get 95. But yes, I am a little bit disappointed not to get to the 100. It's only five runs, but it would have been nice."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dave on August 19, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    @Ross_Co - Well played good sir

  • Geoffrey on August 19, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    @Ross_Co- still hurts hey mate, a few South African ring ins that couldn't even make it into their own national team can beat a "genuine" Australian side.

  • Nicholas on August 19, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    I'm really surprised he credits playing for England Lions for his recent knock... the opposing teams like Aus. A have not exactly been decent challenges recently. I'd say his experience was well earned in county cricket where the attacks are much more threatening than Aus. pop-gun/unfit/injury-prone attacks.

  • Geoffrey on August 19, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    @RandyOZ- actually if you watch the games (which you obviously don't) the South African batsman have seemed far more at sea against the short ball than the England boys.

  • Ross on August 19, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    @Hammond - its existance is far more certain than a genuine England team.

  • Randolph on August 19, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Probably one of the more shaky innings you will see, but good luck to him, hell England sure need some sort of talent coming through (even if they are suspect against the short ball).

  • Geoffrey on August 19, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @Ross-Co- does a "first string" Australian bowling attack even exist?

  • John on August 19, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Got to be honest , I thought JB did have his fair share of luck and while I wish him all the best I'm still reserving judgement until he's had a number of tests. This is thee first time in recent years when an Eng number 6 has come in and done something of any note when the pressure has been on. I'm also really surprised at the poll results (not inc JB) who have Morgan as the best option for our number 6. Do people actually follow what happens in the county game and what happened in UAE? I'd say Morgan would be quite happy if he wasn't recalled to the test squad as I think he'd be happier playing all the T20 bashes

  • Ross on August 19, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    I dare say that after having to face the Australian 2nd or 3rd string attack, facing the saffas was a walk in the park.

  • Allan on August 19, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    It's just one innings and we have seen these second comings before, even from Bopara! However, I would much rather see Bairstow comign through than Taylot to be honest but both holding their own would be a good start, and testament to Englands strength in depth. Is there room in the squad to tour India for Bairstow, Taylor, Bopara and KP though? Probably not.

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