He’s got fire in his eyes. He plays for Welsh Fire. And he’s got the fieriest temperament this side of hell. Every time England drop Jonny Bairstow, or someone has the temerity to tacitly question his talent, he responds by scoring runs. Big tetchy runs.
It was the same again in Lincoln overnight. Jonny made a masculine 78 off 45 balls as England beat a New Zealand XI by 6 wickets with almost two whole overs to spare in their first T20 warmup. Job done. And message sent to the selectors.
Although I’ve got mixed feels about Bairstow playing any white ball cricket – I doubt he’ll ever recover his red ball form while he’s focusing on smashing the ball around rather than keeping it out – I can’t help but admire the way he responds to setbacks.
Jonny is like a man possessed in both T20s and ODIs these days, and although I think the test side needs an on-form Jonny Bairstow far more than our white ball teams, maybe he’s resigned himself to a white ball existence for the foreseeable future …
No matter how much it makes sense for Jonny and Jos Buttler to reverse roles, with Buttler focusing on white ball and Jonny on red (it was always thus after all) there’s no way Big Ed is going to admit that the flagship test selection of his tenure isn’t working out – not yet anyway.
Overall it was a good win for England. T20 can be a fickle format, so defeat is always a possibility in these games, so it was great to get the tour off to a positive side.
One wonders, however, whether the opposition were somewhat distracted by events in Japan, where David slaughtered Goliath rather convincingly despite the latter having the TMO in their pocket and the ref allowing them to pass forward liberally all game. Sorry, I had to get that in somewhere :-)
The only slight negative was the performance of England’s new boys: Tom Banton, Pat Brown, Saqib Mahmood, who all had tough(ish) debuts. Banton is a great talent, and I’m sure he’ll have a long white ball career at the top level, but facing a fired up Lockie Ferguson with the new ball is a significant step up from county cricket. Meanwhile, Brown and Mahmood conceded 39 and 35 runs from their four overs respectively, although the former did pick up a wicket.
At least, however, the new boys had a slightly better day than Joe Denly, who bowled three wicketless overs for 30 runs and then made three-ball duck. I’m still not sure why Joe’s on this tour, or even in England’s white ball thinking, but there you go.
It was a better day for the returnees. Chris Jordan bowled economically and it was really promising to see Adil Rashid pick up 2-25.
Adil is a key man in England’s white ball teams so let’s hope he can put his shoulder troubles behind him. Shoulder injuries can be particularly nasty for leg spinners. Even the great Shane Warne, emperor of London Spirit, wasn’t quite the same after his shoulder surgery.
I’m looking forward to monitoring England’s T20 team as we head towards the twenty over World Cup in Australia in a year’s time. Although T20 is the least important form of the game – at least in the opinion of this particular cricket snob – the games always have more context when there’s a big event approaching.
I’ve always enjoyed the T20 World Cups, and it would be brilliant to win the thing next year for two rather tasty reasons (a) holding both white ball World Cups at the same time would feel rather satisfying indeed, and (b) next year’s event is in Australia.
Wouldn’t it be great to lift a trophy in front of 90,000 grudging Aussies at the MCG? We sure as hell aren’t going to win the Ashes down under the following year – not the way things are currently going anyway – so let’s take our wins on Australian soil when we can get them.
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