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Bairstow: Belligerent in the blue

by  Cricbuzz  •  Last updated on
Since a href=profiles6507jonnybairstowJonny Bairstow returned to Englands ODI team during the 2017 Champions Trophy he averages 5121In that time his strike rate is 11097He has nine ODI hundreds and eight halfcenturiesHis halfcentury at the Ageas Bowl off 21 balls was the jointquickest for England in ODI cricketHe is also the jointquickest English player to 3000 ODI runsHe is part of one of the bestever opening partnerships in the history of the ODI gameHe is a World Cup winner having scored hundreds in two mustwin matches for England during the group stages of last years tournamentHe has all of that to his name and yet rarely do his exploits against the whiteball get spoken about in the reverence that they should Instead Bairstow always seems to be judged by his Test record In the lead up to this series he was asked by Sky Sports about his Test future having been a href=cricketnews113372incumbentplayersrewardedbutdoorsnotclosedforjonnybairstowenglandcricketcricbuzzcomleft out of Englands squad for last months series against West Indies and for next weeks first Test against Pakistan He was also asked about it numerous times in the postmatch press conference today He is going back to play fourday cricket for Yorkshire after this series and you can be sure that all eyes will be on him then tooBut Bairstow doesnt always have to be seen through the lens of his Test match exploitsHis a href=livecricketscorecard23255engvsire2ndodiirelandtourofengland202082 off 41 deliveries at the Ageas Bowl showcased in particular two of the standout qualities that make him such a formidable 50over player The first is his ability to punish and really punish any length With some batsmen a bowler might be able to defend on a certain length knowing that the batter isnt as destructive there England bowled back of a length to Irelands opener Gareth Delaney in this game for instance having seen how he scored off anything full in the opening match of the series He registered a 12ball duckBut Bairstow doesnt have any particular length where he struggles Wherever the Irish bowlers went he cracked on When Craig Young bowled short Bairstow pulled When Young bowled a good length he also pulled When Josh Little (and Young) went full he hit in an arc between cover and midwicket on the ground or over the topEven balls which would normally be considered deliveries to respect Bairstow hit for four His 12th boundary was smashed on the up through midoff off Little the shot of the day against a ball which was worth a dot or a single Another good length ball later was heaved into the legside Against the spin of Andy McBrine Bairstow used his feet to loft him straightHe hit 14 boundaries and two sixes in all before Little dismissed him with a wide delivery which Bairstow will think he should have carved away for four rather than edging behind Until that point no length had been safeThe second quality that Bairstow has is brutality You wouldnt say he is a touch player in oneday cricket Nor are some of his shots particularly classical When he drives the bat can turn in his hand When he plays through the legside it is sometimes more of a shovel than a caress Hes happy to simply plonk the ball over the infield early on and nor is he afraid of a good old fashioned heave every now and then Sam Billings who played a vital hand is more attractive on the eye So too James Vince and Tom BantonIt is not that Bairstow does not have touch and timing of course The ball raced off his bat faster and sweeter than anyone else in this game But there is plenty of brawn in his play and judging by his physique a bit more muscle has been added during lockdown Nobody in the English lineup not even Jason Roy or Ben Stokes oozes quite as much raw aggression as Bairstow does when he is in this sort of mood His belligerence was immediate and the Irish bowlers certainly felt itBairstow took seven boundaries and a six from his first 17 deliveries despite the early loss of Roy Other openers might have gone into their shell after the early loss particularly given Bairstow himself failed in the first game falling LBW for just 2 But Englands batting mantra under Eoin Morgan is not one of pressure absorption "There is a very small amount of framework by the way we operate our batting" Englands captain said before game one "A lot is just trying to apply pressure on the opposition the whole time" Bairstow is the epitome of that philosophyAs he walked to the crease he could be seen muttering to himself He had a few words with Little early on after inside edging the bowler past the stumps After the game Bairstow wouldnt give away much of what he was saying to himself but admitted that without spectators in the ground to provide some atmosphere he decided to make some of his own As he also said chasing a lower total on a pitch that "wasnt coming on" can be tricky but he resolved to keep playing in the aggressive manner England have been for the past five yearsThe rest of the top order tried to follow his lead but with a lot less success The delivery which removed Roy could probably have been left but it was also very full and Roy does not often watch those go by Instead his downfall was a question of execution playing the ball out in front of him as it moved away His frustration was evident as he let out a scream when he got back to the dressing room Vince and Banton both missed balls they were trying to force off the skiddy medium pace of Curtis Campher Vinces seamed in a touch of the pitch while Bantons looked straight to start with and straight to finish with Both will feel they could have done betterMorgans second ball was a longhop which he slapped to cover It looked a poor shot and in execution it was but it was there to be hit He just didnt get it Moeen Alis was another dismissal that wont look good when he watches it back but it was a short ball on legstump which he tried to get inside and flick down to fine leg Perhaps he could have let it go by given England had just lost two quick wickets and it was just his third delivery But then again the teams philosophy is clear As Morgan put it: "Trying to apply pressure on the opposition the whole time"Thats what Bairstow did helping his team to an unassailable twonil series lead It is what he has done for the best part of three and half years now as Englands oneday opener He may become the Test player that many still think and hope that he can be He may not He certainly wants to regain his place in Joe Roots team But rather than continually view him through the lens of his Test career perhaps it would be far better to appreciate his feats in ODI cricket They really are something