BAIRSTOW EX­CELS

York­shire­man grabs sec­ond suc­ces­sive ton as Eng­land win ODI se­ries

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Wa­ters CRICKET CORRESPONDENT Email: chris.wa­ters@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @CWater­sYPS­port

IDE­ALLY, Eng­land would have gone into the fifth and fi­nal one­day in­ter­na­tional against New Zealand in Christchurch 4-0 up with the se­ries won.

But for a cou­ple of hun­dreds from the net­tle­some Ross Tay­lor, in Hamil­ton and Dunedin, they might well have done, Tay­lor in­spir­ing vic­to­ries in the first match and also in the fourth.

In­jury pre­vented Tay­lor from play­ing in Christchurch, where the se­ries was poised with the score 2-2.

It gave Eng­land the per­fect chance to show that they can per­form un­der pres­sure be­fore next year’s World Cup, and, in­spired by a sec­ond suc­ces­sive hun­dred from York­shire’s Jonny Bairstow, who reached the land­mark from just 58 balls, they grabbed it with both hands, win­ning by seven wick­ets with 17.2 overs to spare to seal their sixth ODI se­ries vic­tory on the bounce.

In many ways, Eng­land will go into that World Cup on a hid­ing to noth­ing of their own con­struc­tion.

Not only are they the host na­tion, but also a team to­tally trans­formed from the pre­vi­ous World Cup, where they suf­fered an em­bar­rass­ing early exit.

Eng­land will be ex­pected by many to lift the tro­phy on the back of their con­tin­ued ex­cel­lence in the one-day game, which is win­ning ad­mir­ers at home and abroad.

By com­mon con­sent, the only ques­tion is whether they can sum­mon the strength to get over the line in key knock­out fix­tures, hav­ing lost in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy semi-fi­nal last sum­mer, for ex­am­ple.

As ever, the proof of the pud­ding will be in the eat­ing, but any­one who can­not ad­mire the way that Eng­land are play­ing their one-day cricket at present has lit­tle con­cept of the ma­jes­tic.

It was summed up in Christchurch by the bril­liant Bairstow, who fol­lowed his 138 in Dunedin with an in­nings of 104 from 60 balls, ex­actly one-quar­ter of which he sent to the bound­ary in the form of nine fours and six sixes.

Af­ter New Zealand were dis­missed for 223, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes each tak­ing three wick­ets, Bairstow blasted the third-fastest one-day hun­dred in Eng­land’s his­tory, be­hind Jos But­tler (off 46 balls) and Moeen Ali (53).

It was his fourth ODI cen­tury in the past six months as an opener, fol­low­ing a brace of tons against the West Indies, and it was the sec­ond suc­ces­sive time that he had clinched a one-day se­ries against New Zealand, hav­ing struck an un­beaten 83 when the sides met in an­other de­cider at Ch­ester-le-Street in 2015.

By dint of sheer hard work, skill and a re­fusal to give up, Bairstow has be­come an in­dis­pens­able mem­ber of Eng­land’s one-day team and now av­er­ages close to 50 in the 50-over for­mat.

Hav­ing ini­tially strug­gled to hold down a place, due to the in­abil­ity of oth­ers to de­tect his tal­ents rather than through any fault of his own, he is a match­win­ner now on a po­ten­tial col­li­sion course with a World Cup win­ner’s medal, al­though nei­ther he nor his team-mates will be tak­ing any­thing for granted.

Bairstow’s brace of cen­turies against the Ki­wis were as good as any­thing you will see from a man who de­serves to be ranked as one of the best and most ver­sa­tile bats­men in the world.

In­deed, Bairstow could surely bat in any po­si­tion in any for­mat, keep wicket in any for­mat, and, as he showed in Christchurch, he can also turn it on in the out­field too, his run­ning, one-handed div­ing bound­ary catch to re­move Tim Southee em­pha­sis­ing that he is very much the com­plete all­round pack­age.

If Bairstow made mince­meat of the run-chase, be­fore in­ad­ver­tently hit­ting his own stumps as he tried to at­tack Trent Boult, then Alex Hales was an ex­cel­lent foil.

The Notts man con­trib­uted 61 to their rol­lock­ing open­ing stand of 155 in­side 21 overs, with Hales tak­ing his op­por­tu­nity af­ter a back spasm ruled out Ja­son Roy.

While Bairstow led the way, pep­per­ing all cor­ners of the pic­turesque Ha­gley Park, Hales played the role of har­mo­nious sec­ond fid­dle.

It was a near-per­fect per­for­mance by Eoin Mor­gan’s men, for whom man-of-the-se­ries Woakes set the tone with the ball.

Af­ter­wards, Bairstow de­scribed the dis­play as “ruth­less”, which was as good a word as any.

He also said that he is “still a work in progress” as he at­tempts to make more big hun­dreds and match-win­ning scores.

It high­lights the level-headed at­ti­tude of a player who is sim­ply en­joy­ing his cricket for all he is worth and play­ing the game with a smile on his face.

As the man him­self put it: “It’s great fun.

“Any time you go out to play for Eng­land in an amaz­ing coun­try you are very for­tu­nate to travel to, it’s some­thing you have to go and en­joy.”

PIC­TURES: AN­DREW CORNAGA/ WWW.PHOTOSPORT.NZ.

TOP BAT: Eng­land’s Jonny Bairstow kisses his hel­met af­ter reach­ing his cen­tury in the one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries de­cider at the Ha­gley Oval, Christchurch. In­set, the Eng­land team pose with the tro­phy.

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