Jonny Bairstow has reiterated his desire to play Tests and said that he has never felt any temptation to put all of his focus on white-ball cricket after hitting 82 off 41 balls in the second one ODI against Ireland.
Bairstow continued his abnormal run of 50-over form in an England shirt on Saturday, equalling the record for England’s fastest ODI half-century when he whacked the 21st ball of his innings over long-off for six. All through his day’s work, he also passed 3000 ODI runs, equalling Joe Root’s England record in doing so in his 72nd innings.
Since he used to be handed a chance to open with Jason Roy following Alex Hales’ post-Bristol omission in September 2017, Bairstow has averaged 50.36 and scored at 6.72 runs per over in ODI cricket, a 49-innings stretch which includes nine 100s and seven 50s. His record against spin in that time is especially belligerent: he scores at 7.33 runs per over against it, averaging 82.2 runs per dismissal.
And yet coming into this series, Bairstow had stated his intention to use the three ODIs as the start of his “journey” to receive back into Test-match contention.
“[A Test recall] is my burning ambition but the only way I am going to do this is to score runs, starting in this ODI series, [and] to retain mannered,” he told Sky. “I’m confidently going back to Yorkshire to play two four-day games in between this and the T20s. So yeah, the journey to confidently get back into contention for that starts here.”
Bairstow has played only one Test since final summer’s Ashes series, making 1 and 9 in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion which Ollie Pope missed through illness. He had been left out of the side for the tour of New Zealand before Christmas, and used to be omitted from the squad that travelled to Sri Lanka immediately before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Since then, he used to be a part of England’s enlarged training group ahead of their series against West Indies, but transferred across to the white-ball bubble when it became lucid that he would not make the XI for the first Test. He hopes to play a handful of Willis Trophy games for Yorkshire before England’s deliberate white-ball series against Australia in September, and said on Saturday that he used to be desperate to put himself “back in the shop window” for selection.
Jonny Bairstow bludgeons a pull shot Getty Images
“I’ve worked tough with my Test and red-ball stuff leading into the camp,” he said. “I’m here playing white-ball cricket. Obviously you’re actually pleased for the guys that have gone and won that Test series after being 1-0 down. That takes a large number of guts, so it used to be great to see them win that series.
“I will be going back and playing for Yorkshire in the four-day comp. I will be trying my best – that’s all I will be able to do to put myself back in the shop window to be selected in the Test squad again.
“I’m concentrating on scoring runs, and I will try and get a large number of them here. Down the line, what happens, happens. I will go back to Yorkshire next week, and confidently play Notts next week or the week after. I’m just concentrating on playing my cricket, not taking a look too far ahead.”
Chasing a below-par 213 target on a used pitch, Bairstow flew out of the blocks on Saturday, hitting 14 fours and two sixes in an innings that showed him at somewhere close his best. He admitted that he felt some extra responsibility in the absence of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler from the standard ODI batting line-up, but said that used to be not something that fazed him.
“If you find yourself chasing rather lower scores on a pitch that is probably not coming on as much, I think it may be rather tricky, depending on how the start is,” he said. “The way Jason [Roy] and I have gone approximately it prior to now has been to play as naturally as imaginable – we’ve gone approximately it in a way that we would chase a larger score.
“I’d have liked to have gone on and seen it home, but the manner we’re playing in, we wish to retain going with that. You wish to have to be in the market in the middle, and confidently thriving on the pressure and the responsibility. You wish to have to be setting the usual for the guys that are coming into the side… confidently that feeds down into the guys that are playing their first few games.”
There are occasions when you’ll’t help but wonder if Bairstow would make life easier for himself whether he gave up his Test dream and instead focused on securing his status as probably the most best white-ball batsmen on the planet, thrashing boundaries in T20 leagues and putting his name alongside Buttler and Eoin Morgan as one of England’s contemporary one-day greats.
Is it something that has ever crossed his brain, you might wonder? “No, to be rather sincere with you,” used to be his snappy reply.