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News

Jonny Bairstow: 'It doesn't really matter to me where I bat'

England's decision to deploy him at No. 4 "a compliment" from team management, Bairstow says

Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook saw England over the line, England vs Pakistan, 4th T20I, The Oval, May 30, 2024

Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook saw England over the line at The Oval  •  Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow has described England's decision to deploy him at No. 4 for their T20 World Cup defence as "a compliment", acknowledging his versatility. Bairstow missed England's 2022 triumph in Australia after suffering a career-threatening ankle break and has only played six T20Is since, but it set to play a key role in England's middle order.
Bairstow had been earmarked to open the batting at the last T20 World Cup, before an injury sustained on the golf course ruled him out. He opened in four T20Is against New Zealand last summer, a role he also performs for his IPL franchise, Punjab Kings; but the irresistible rise of Phil Salt, who scored back-to-back hundreds as opener in the Caribbean over the winter and played a big role in Kolkata Knight Riders' IPL 2024 title win, means Bairstow will slot in lower down.
The 34-year-old has plenty of experience at No. 4, the spot where he has batted most frequently outside of opening, and scored a career-best 90 against South Africa two summers ago.
"I've batted all over," Bairstow said after England's victory over Pakistan at The Oval on Thursday. "It doesn't really matter to me where I bat. It's actually a compliment that Jos [Buttler] and Motty [Matthew Mott] think I've got the skillset to bat at four. I've done it a lot. Whether it's opening the batting or batting at four, to be able to recall your skills even in Test cricket is exactly what you have to do through the middle."
Bairstow made 21 off 18 at Edgbaston, in the first of two outings during the rain-affected series with Pakistan, before helping finish off England's chase at The Oval with an unbroken stand of 46 off 27 balls alongside Harry Brook. How the two Yorkshiremen dovetail in the middle order could be key for England in the Caribbean.
"It's important to get into the rhythm of finishing games off," Bairstow said. "Harry and I are batting four and five at the moment and we want to see games through till the end. It's about carrying on with the style that we want to keep playing in. We took the right options and it worked out."
Bairstow heads into the T20 World Cup after a gruelling winter programme, during which he was the only England player to feature in the 50-over World Cup, the Test tour of India and the IPL. He achieved two significant milestones, playing both his 100th ODI and 100th Test in Dharamsala, but endured mixed form as England surrendered their ODI title and then went down 4-1 in the Tests.
"You're under pressure all the time to perform and that's how you want to play your cricket because when the pressure overs are on, you're able to go back to those days when you might have got 20 off 15 but you got over the line"
Jonny Bairstow on the IPL 2024 experience
However, after being dropped by Punjab Kings partway through the IPL, he roared back into form with a scintillating 108 not out from 48 balls, helping his side to pull off the highest successful chase in T20 history. He finished the tournament with 298 runs at a strike rate of 152.82.
"I was happy with the IPL," he said. "We were at a new ground. It was a good experience playing against world-class players all the time. You're under pressure all the time to perform and that's how you want to play your cricket because when the pressure overs are on, you're able to go back to those days when you might have got 20 off 15 but you got over the line. Or you're playing against Jasprit Bumrah or the guys that we're going to come up against the World Cup. It's then about going back on those experiences, which hopefully carry you over the line."
He also played down the significance of England's failed World Cup campaign in India last year, where a side led by Buttler and featuring a number of the same players crashed out ignominiously during the round-robin group stage.
"Completely different format. Different conditions. Different group. So yeah, we're going to the T20 World Cup very hopeful of putting on a good performance"