England hero Jonny Bairstow has credited his experiences in the Indian Premier League with giving him the ‘gears’ to play the innings of his life at Trent Bridge.
Bairstow threw a century of 77 to lead a thrilling chase on day five in the second Test against New Zealand – the second fastest ever by an England player – and finished with a brilliant 136.
He hit seven sixes and 14 fours as he and captain Ben Stokes chased a tough 299 in just 50 overs.
Bairstow entered the series after a stint from Twenty20 in the IPL, where he played for the Punjab Kings, rather than lining up for Yorkshire at the start of the county season.
The 32-year-old realizes that skipping the top-class domestic structure in favor of the franchise circuit isn’t a move everyone agrees with, but suggested his experiences in India were key to his heroism in Nottingham.
“There were a lot of people saying I shouldn’t be at the IPL and I should be playing county cricket,” he said after his game-changing efforts.
“Yes, people say it would be fantastic if you had four red ball cricket matches under your belt (before a round of testing) but unfortunately that’s not happening with the current programming of everything in the world.
“Decisions are decisions and if I could say what I wanted then… so be it. But there are elements where you play against the best in the world at the IPL. Being able to have these speeds, being able to change them, change them, is important.
“We are very lucky to be able to play in some of the best competitions against the best players in the world. So when it comes to pressure situations, the more you are able to put yourself under those pressure situations the better, because you have experienced them in the past.
“Whether it’s in the IPL, whether it’s one-day cricket, whether it’s red-ball cricket before, you can call on nights like this.”
It hadn’t been long since Bairstow’s Test career seemed to be up in the air and he went all of 2020 without a single appearance as he remained an integral part of the clean ball setup.
But he is enjoying a real renaissance this year, scoring hundreds of outstanding goals with the struggling side in Sydney and Antigua before Tuesday’s burst of glory.
On every occasion, he scored points when it mattered most – a responsibility he seems to thrive on.
“The pride it gives me to play for England, and to play Test cricket for England first and foremost, is huge,” he said.
“I’m extremely proud of the fact that sometimes when the chips are down you have to get up, when you can tell your back is against a wall. It can be something that you were born with, it can be something that you have deep inside that springs from you at those times. But, for me as a cricketer, it’s something I’m very proud of.
Bairstow is one of many players who appear to have been invigorated by Stokes’ new management team and head coach Brendon McCullum. He is the kind of proactive player who is a perfect fit for the fearless brand of cricket he wants to play.
“I’m lucky to have played under many different captains and coaches over the past 10 years for England, and each of them has given me different good points,” he said.
“They added to the experiences I’ve had along the way, but I’m excited for the next trip with Ben and Brendon. I’m hugely excited about the vision Ben and Brendon have, the way we can conduct our cricket. , the fun that everyone has on the pitch.
“There weren’t really any details from Brendon. It’s more, ‘Take the game, take the game forward’.