'Bairstow at his best when he has a point to prove', says Root ahead of wicketkeeper’s 100th Test

March 4, 2024
Ahead of Jonny Bairstow playing his 100th Test match when England play India in the fifth Test at Dharamshala on March 7,

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Ahead of Jonny Bairstow playing his 100th Test match when England play India in the fifth Test at Dharamshala on March 7, long-time team-mate Joe Root said the wicketkeeper-batter is at his best when he has a point to prove.

Bairstow will become the 17th men’s Test player from England to play 100 Test matches in the series finale against India. Citing how Sir Geoffrey Boycott inspired Bairstow to convert fifties into hundreds, Root recalled how it fired him up to prove a point, a trait which has now become synonymous with the wicketkeeper-batter.

“He likes to wear his emotions on his sleeve which I think makes him what he is. It brings the best out of him. A good example of that was at the end of one of the seasons at Yorkshire when he had just broken into the first team.

“Me and Gary Ballance were coming through in the second team and we were all called into a meeting with the president at the time which was Sir Geoffrey Boycott. He sat us all down and said to me and Gary, ‘you are playing very well in the second team, keep working hard, keep doing certain things right and it won’t be long until you get in the first team’.

“He then said, ‘Jonny, you have had an exceptional year in the second team and come into the first team and got four or five brilliant fifties – but I have got 151 first-class hundreds so if you want to borrow one you can because you have not looked like converting one of those!’

“I think one of Jonny’s very next games he scored a double hundred. That is one of the examples of him going out and showing everyone how good he is, making a point when needed,” said Root on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.

In 99 Tests, Bairstow has amassed 5974 runs at an average of 36.42, including 12 centuries and 26 fifties. Root, who’s been with Bairstow since his Yorkshire days, feels one couldn’t have written a better story for the wicketkeeper-batter to get his 100th Test cap.

“He is also one of those genuinely kind people that wants to do everything for you. It might not always come across like that on the screen but he has a really good heart and is someone that will always have your back and look after you.

“You know how much it means to him to play for England and it will be an emotional week for him. You will see when we huddle and there is that presentation every bit of emotion he will be feeling. It will be nice to be there to share that with him. You couldn’t write a better script for Jonny Bairstow,” he said.

Root signed off by lauding Bairstow for adapting to various roles as per the demands of the team in Tests. “We have had numerous coaches who have wanted to balance the Test side and set up differently. With Jonny, you can play him as a batter, play him as a keeper-batter.

“He can offer so much and has such a wide range of skillsets that it can be misinterpreted at times what his best strengths are. He has had to deal with a lot of change and being moved around, whether throughout the order, keeping or playing just as a batter.

“That is part and parcel of international cricket. You have to fit into the team and to go on and play 100 Test matches proves that he has been able to do that for long periods of time and offered a huge amount to English cricket.

“It also shows the resilience of the player to be able to come back and almost have to remodel yourself into a different role within the team (from wicketkeeper-batter at No 7 to specialist batter in top six) and still have such an impact. He has played some vital innings since that major leg break he had a couple of years ago. It is amazing for him to come back from that as he has done.”



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