JONNY BAIRSTOW: 140, FIRST TEST V SRI LANKA, HEADINGLEY
Home hundreds are usually popular, but it’s hard to think that any Test innings has been more widely savoured that Jonny Bairstow’s 140 against Sri Lanka. Not even the 198 he scored on the ground in his previous game for Yorkshire.
On a pure cricketing level, it was quite something, too. Bairstow came to the crease at 83 for 5, and dug England out the only way he knows how – through spirited bottom-handed counterpunching. By the end, he had accounted for almost half England’s runs – the kind of thing that can happen when the Dukes ball has swung through the top order, but still special.
Everyone can see that Bairstow’s wicketkeeping is a work in progress. No keeper can be expected to pouch everything that comes within his range, but his synergy with first slip, and his movement low down, do require some work. Still, he held nine catches – a record for an England keeper in a home Test. He paid tribute to the help of Bruce French, who helped Matt Prior iron out difficulties, too.
The real test, though, will be this winter. All of England’s batsmen will have to adapt their natural technique to the spinners.
Then there’s the keeping. Standing back to Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad against the swinging Dukes ball is one thing; standing up to Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in India and Bangladesh when the SG or Kookaburra ball is staying low or turning out of the footholds will be something else. He may even find himself standing up to Anderson and Broad with the ball reversing a tad. French will really earn his money then.