England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Headingley, 3rd day May 22, 2016

'Bairstow was batting on a different wicket' - Cook

Jonny Bairstow looked as if he were "playing on a different wicket" to everyone else in the first Investec Test according to England captain, Alastair Cook.

Bairstow, who became the first England keeper to take nine catches and score a century in a Test, was named man of the match for what Cook hailed as his "extraordinary" innings of 140 against Sri Lanka. Only four other men reached 20 in the entire match.

But Cook was not surprised by Bairstow's dominance. He said after the victory that he had believed Bairstow would represent England from the first time he saw him play and that, over the last couple of years, he had developed into the best batsman in the county game.

"I remember watching him play in Scarborough; one of the first times I saw him play," Cook said. "He played differently to everyone else. We couldn't stop him scoring. I thought he would play for England the first time I saw him.

"But, like everyone, he took some time to find out what exactly he had to do in international cricket. But, over the last two years there hasn't been a better batsman in England.

"Here Jonny was playing on a different wicket to the other 21 guys. It was an extraordinary innings."

That Scarborough match occurred in 2010. While Bairstow did not top-score - he made 62 for Yorkshire against Cook's Essex side - he was only 20 at the time and the performance has clearly stuck in Cook's mind.

Certainly Bairstow has been in outstanding form of late. He averaged 92.33 in the 2015 County Championship and, before this game, had scored 246 and 198 at Headingley in first-class matches this season.

But Cook believes that it was Bairstow's match-winning contribution in an ODI in Durham that gave him the confidence to know he could succeed in international cricket. That innings, an unbeaten 83 from 60 deliveries against New Zealand last June, helped England recover from 45 for 5 to win by three wickets with an over to spare.

"Ever since that ODI innings at Durham he realised he can play international cricket," Cook said. "He can be the talent we all knew he could be.

"Scoring a hundred at Headingley must have been really special for him and he has kept really well, which is the other part of his job. I'm really happy for him."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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