Have England finally unlocked Bairstow potential?

Jonny Bairstow, the son of the former England wicketkeeper David Bairstow, is a combative wicketkeeper-batter who has become a cricketer . Bairstow vowed to continue his swashbuckling approach and inspire the next generation after another sensational ton rescued England.

Jonny Bairstow

Jonny Bairstow has been at the forefront of England’s revolution in Test cricket, scoring sublime centuries in victories over New Zealand and India. Since Ben Stokes’ arrival as Test captain and the appointment of Brendon McCullum as head coach, England have been irresistible with the red ball, matching their exploits in the one-day and T20 arenas. McCullum and Stokes have introduced the same brand of aggressive cricket as Eoin Morgan brought to the white ball sides in 2015, creating the most formidable unit in the world.

The Three Lions will have the same ambition in the Test match game, and the early signs are optimistic with the odds with PaddyPower.com/bet shifting to 11/10 for England to win the Ashes in 2023 on home soil. Bairstow’s form is one of the most pleasing aspects of the Three Lions’ rise, but at the same time one of ultimate frustration.

The 32-year-old has always had the talent at his disposal but lacked the consistency and the technique to dominate against the red ball as he has done so effectively against the white ball. Bairstow is arguably the best one-day batsman in the world at the peak of his powers. He averages 47.91 at a strike rate of 105.01, scoring 11 centuries and 14 fifties in only 89 matches. The opener has been a constant presence in the top 10 of the world rankings and was a key cog in England’s victory at the 2019 World Cup.

Whereas he flourished under Morgan’s captaincy, his performances under Alastair Cook and Joe Root flattered to deceive. He appeared to make a breakthrough in 2016, scoring three centuries and eight half-centuries in 29 innings, including a career-best 167 not out against South Africa. He sustained a decent level of form in 2017, although he was never able to kick on and fell out of contention after a dismal run of performances in 2019. Root’s loyalty to his fellow Yorkshireman prompted a recall in 2021, but once again he failed to make the most of his opportunities as England won only one of 17 matches.

Signs of recovery came in the fourth Ashes Test in 2022 at Sydney, notching a ton in a draw before he was ruled out of the final Test due to injury. He followed it up with a 140 against the West Indies, although England once again lost the series. Root’s resignation put Bairstow and a number of failing veteran players under the spotlight. Unlike Jos Buttler, England kept faith with Bairstow, and it all appeared to click into gear for the Yorkshireman in a sensational knock to chase down 299 against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. He blasted the Black Caps’ attack to all parts of the ground, scoring England’s second-fastest Test century in the process as explained by the DailyMail.co.uk/sport.

Few players could dismantle a bowling attack in that manner, and his confidence only grew from that point onwards, scoring another ton at Headingley in another swashbuckling chase. He then amended his game against India at Edgbaston with a valuable 106 to keep England in the game before he and Root combined for an outstanding stand of 269 to allow Stokes’ men to chase down yet another mammoth total, their highest in Test cricket, described here at BBC.co.uk/sport.

Bairstow is in the form of his life, but it still raises the question where has this player been in Test cricket? The talent has always been there, but the coaching and captaincy from Cook and Root was fairly uninspiring for their teammates. It has taken a bold approach from a new regime to unlock a world-class player in the middle order. He still has time to fulfil his potential, although he and England will be kicking themselves that it has taken this long for him to reach his best.

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