ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Men's Test batting nominees: Bairstow vs Bairstow

Two innings by Jonny B, plus Elgar, Pant, Babar and Warner

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
03-Mar-2023
Elgar's innings secured South Africa their first win against India at the Wanderers  •  AFP/Getty Images

Elgar's innings secured South Africa their first win against India at the Wanderers  •  AFP/Getty Images

Dean Elgar
96 not out vs India
second Test, Johannesburg

India were eyeing their maiden Test series win in South Africa; they set the hosts a target of 240. But South Africa's captain, Elgar, put his body on the line, taking multiple blows on the third evening. He was beaten and bruised, down at times but not out at stumps, on 46 off 121 balls. It was grit personified. Rain delayed the start on the fourth morning. When the heavens closed, Elgar opened up. He added another 50 - off just 67 balls - to his overnight score, and took South Africa to their first win over India at the Wanderers.
Rishabh Pant
100 not out vs South Africa
third Test, Cape Town

If Elgar was the immovable object in the second Test, Pant was the irresistible force in the third. With little to separate the teams after the first innings, the match became a one-innings contest. Pant kept India in it singlehandedly, playing shots of the kind few do outside of their own imaginations, against Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier and Marco Jansen. He finished unbeaten on 100 off 139 balls; the rest of India's batters managed 70 off 275. His knock gave India another shot at the series win, but it was not to be.
Kyle Verreynne
136 not out vs New Zealand
second Test, Christchurch

After his first five Tests, Verreynne had an average of 15.42, a best of 30, and plenty of self-doubt. He changed all that during this innings. When he walked in, South Africa were 103 for 4, which soon became 114 for 5. Their overall lead at that point was 185; they will have been hoping to set a target of around 275. Verreynne cut and pulled, and stitched together more-than-handy partnerships with the lower order. His century allowed South Africa to declare on 354 for 9. Chasing 426, New Zealand didn't get close.
Babar Azam
196 vs Australia
second Test, Karachi

When someone as prolific as Babar says a particular innings "holds a lot of meaning" for him, it has to be special. Pakistan lasted only 53 overs in their first innings, but with the pitch not deteriorating much, Australia gave themselves close to two days the second time around. Babar put a wrench in their plans, batting, batting and batting. He found support from Abdullah Shafique (96) and Mohammad Rizwan (104 not out), and at one stage, it looked like Pakistan might do the unthinkable - chase down 506. The end result was a draw, but for Pakistan, it must have tasted as sweet as a win.
Joshua Da Silva
100 not out vs England
third Test, St George's

In a match where no other batter got to 50, Da Silva played a key role in West Indies winning the Test, and series. When he walked in at 95 for 6 in the first innings, England looked set for a big lead though they had only made 204. Da Silva was restrained at the start before gradually increasing the tempo. He was on 65 when the ninth wicket fell, but Jayden Seales hung around, allowing him to get to his maiden Test century. That innings pushed West Indies 93 ahead. Kyle Mayers then picked up 5 for 18 to help bowl England out for 120, setting up a ten-wicket win.
Jonny Bairstow
136 vs New Zealand
second Test, Nottingham

After both teams posted over 500 in their first innings, England were left chasing 299 from a minimum of 72 overs on the final day. They went to tea at 139 for 4 with Bairstow on 43 off 48. After the break, he made that look pedestrian, galloping to his hundred off 77 balls, missing the England record for the fastest Test century by one ball. He hit 14 fours and seven sixes in his 92 balls. In the final session, England needed 160 from 38 overs. Bairstow's onslaught, and Ben Stokes' unbeaten 75 off 70, meant they knocked the runs off in just 16 overs.
Jonny Bairstow
106 vs India
fifth Test, Birmingham

England were 44 for 3 in response to India's 416 when Bairstow walked in. He didn't have an easy time of it, with Mohammed Shami challenging both edges, and laboured to 16 off 65, but off the next 75 balls, he smashed 90. He was particularly severe on Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj, playing one breathtaking shot after another to take them for 64 off 52. England's other batters, however, didn't contribute much and they ended up conceding a lead of 132. At that point, it seemed Bairstow's knock had made little difference; its true value was to be realised later.
Joe Root
142 not out vs India
fifth Test, Birmingham

In their three previous Tests, England had gunned down targets of 277, 299 and 296. But 378 is a different beast - they had never chased down so many before. They slipped from 107 for no loss to 109 for 3, but Root stayed positive in his intent. He got to 83 off 124 balls and then unleashed a flurry of boundaries. He drove, dabbed, pulled, stepped out to Shardul Thakur, and even reverse-scooped him for a six. "That's f***ing ridiculous," non-striker Bairstow, who scored an equally explosive hundred, was heard saying after that last shot. England crossed the line in under 77 overs, at almost five an over.
Dinesh Chandimal
206 not out vs Australia
second Test, Galle

The country in economic and political crisis. The team 1-0 behind in the series. Four squad members down with Covid. Against that depressing backdrop, Chandimal produced a game-changing knock. Despite struggling for the initial part of his innings, he kept fighting and took Sri Lanka into the lead. After the ninth wicket fell, he went all-out in attack. He hit four sixes and three fours, and added 49 with the No. 11, Kasun Rajitha, who didn't contribute a run in the partnership. Chandimal's efforts gave Sri Lanka a lead of 190. Debutant Prabath Jayasuriya then picked up his second six-wicket haul of the match to consign Australia to an innings defeat.
David Warner
200 vs South Africa
second Test, Melbourne

Warner had not scored a Test hundred for almost three years, but on the eve of this Test, his 100th, he vowed to be back among runs. South Africa were bowled out for 189 in the first innings; Warner alone eclipsed that total in Australia's reply, smashing 200 off 255 balls. He braved the Melbourne sun, blunted Anrich Nortje's express pace, and feasted on Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj. Luck was on his side too, with a few edges flying for fours. His first 100 runs came in 144 balls, the next 100 in 110. In their second innings, South Africa folded for 204 to lose by an innings.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo