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‘Unchained’ Jonny Bairstow finds right balance

Freedom from the restrictions of bubble life and clarity of role under new coach Brendon McCullum unleashes Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow
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Our Bureau   |   Birmingham   |   Published 10.07.22, 01:22 AM

Freedom from the restrictions of bubble life and clarity of role under new coach Brendon McCullum are the factors which have transformed Jonny Bairstow into an unstoppable scoring machine.

The England batter struck 106 and 114 not out to play a major role in England’s seven-wicket win over India in the rescheduled fifth Test which the hosts won on Tuesday. Before that, he scored 1, 16, 8, 136, 162, 71 not out in the


three-match Test series against New Zealand which England won 3-0.          

“It’s the freedom we have now. We’re not in hotel rooms, bubbles, having to do Covid tests everyday,” Bairstow told the Tailenders podcast. “And obviously the excitement

of working with Baz (McCullum) and the clarity he gave everyone.”

Elaborating on McCullum’s methods and the significance of having clarity, Bairstow said: “Before we played New Zealand, there was chat about going to the IPL and not playing County cricket but Baz phoned me, said I was batting five in the Tests, to get my head around it and crack on,” Bairstow said.

“Baz also spoke to me a bit about imposing myself on the game — nothing technical. That can be tricky in red-ball cricket because you don’t want to look like you’re slogging.

“I played a shot-a-ball at Lord’s (scoring 1 and 16) which didn’t go down too well and then found the balance better at Trent Bridge (scoring 136).” 

Sledge him not

Veteran England pacer James Anderson revealed that Bairstow’s first-innings century against India was somewhat in retaliation to the sledging he was subjected to by Virat Kohli.

“Jonny was 80 not out and Virat had been going at him and sledging him a lot,” said Anderson. “His strike-rate was about 20 before Virat started sledging him and about 150 after.”

During the morning session of the third day, the duo had a heated verbal exchange.

“His (Bairstow’s) first words back in the dressing room at lunch were: ‘When will they learn to shut it?’ If there’s somebody you don’t want to rub up the wrong way, it is Jonny Bairstow,” said Anderson.                            

Written with PTI inputs

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