With a crucial win and fierce hundred behind him, Jonny Bairstow was able to smile at suggestions that he needs fire in his belly to produce his best cricket. England always said that redhead Paul Collingwood gave the side ‘a bit of ginger’ they needed and Bairstow has shown equal passion about the game on and off the field as the popular all-rounder.
Bairstow admitted the past week has been difficult following a spat with Michael Vaughan over comments questioning whether some people are truly behind England in their bid for a first ICC Cricket World Cup success. But his mood was eased greatly by an innings of 111 from 109 balls, which featured six sixes, and victory by 31 runs to end India’s unbeaten run in the tournament.
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Delighted captain Eoin Morgan said: “Jonny does tend to get fired up, it suits him and I don’t mind if he comes out and plays like that.”
Asked whether he agreed, Bairstow joked: “I’m not saying I want everyone to come out abusing me, not by any means. I think there are different ways to look at it. Along the way, people have questioned techniques, conditions and other things. It is important to react to different scenarios and circumstances and work out how you can play your best.
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“You go out every time with the intention of scoring a hundred. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes you nick one behind and sometimes the edge goes for four and you’re up and running.”
That was the case at Edgbaston as Bairstow twice inside-edged Mohammed Shami to the fine leg boundary before starting to bring his A-game to the fore – not least against India’s spin attack.
Bairstow said that his comments at a sponsor event had been misinterpreted but insists he has moved on, quoting the old saying about yesterday’s news being today’s fish and chip wrapping.
“It was obvious that over the past couple of weeks we have not played our best cricket,” he said. “This was a game that keeps the World Cup campaign in our own hands rather than needing other people to win.
“I think the application everyone showed with the bat, and the way we started with the ball against India’s dangerous opening batters was outstanding.”
England’s success was founded on a stand of 160 in 23 overs between Bairstow and Jason Roy, their ninth three-figure first wicket stand in only 30 matches opening together, and the best by any pair in the World Cup so far.
“It was a difficult start with the way their seamers bowled,” Bairstow admitted. “The way we played spin, which has been one of India’s strengths in the middle overs, wasn’t calculated but just came about and we built confidence there from the way Jason started.
“Jason has been frustrated with the setback to his hamstring. He was very relaxed, in good touch and it was great to be back out there with him.”
Victory for England in their final group game against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday will guarantee a place in the semi-finals and with Roy expected to recover from a bruised shoulder the opening partnership will continue.
(Inputs from ICC)