Jonny Bairstow is ready for a World Cup rehearsal this weekend after England’s defeat to New Zealand in the fourth one-day international set up an all-or-nothing decider.
Eoin Morgan’s team are seeking a sixth successive ODI series win, and ninth in their last 10 attempts dating back more than two years.
Such has been their improvement since the last World Cup, though, they have rarely faced a must-win fixture in that time – and in fact, when they did in last summer’s Champions Trophy semi-final, they fluffed their lines against eventual tournament winners Pakistan in Cardiff.
Bairstow therefore rightly identifies Saturday’s match at Hagley Oval as an indicator of England’s progression towards their home World Cup campaign in 2019, when they will need knockout successes at some stage.
Asked if that was the case, he said: “Absolutely – it’s huge.”
— Jonny Bairstow (@jbairstow21) March 7, 2018
England have got themselves into a tight spot after squandering the open-goal position Bairstow and Joe Root’s centuries put them in to seal the series there and then at Dunedin’s University Oval.
The Yorkshire pair powered England to 267 for one in the 38th over, and the brink of an unassailable 3-1 lead – only for a collapse of six wickets for 21 runs and then Ross Taylor’s brilliant 181 not out to turn the match around.
Bairstow nonetheless remains confident about their prospects against the Black Caps.
“The way the guys reacted to situations over the last two ODI series helps,” he said.
“You can look back at the way we closed it out (to clinch the series against Australia) in Sydney and in Wellington, when the guys have been asked to stand up.”
Bairstow and Root have been scoring centuries together since they were in short trousers – and delivered again in Dunedin.
Before Wednesday, Root had gone 16 ODI innings without a century, dating back to last June, while Bairstow passed 50 just once in his eight most recent attempts.
But the two batsmen, who first met as Yorkshire schoolboys 15 years ago, were back on song with a second-wicket stand of 190 at the University Oval.
Bairstow was hardly panicking about his recent form.
“I didn’t get a big one against Australia, but it’s been threatening,” he said. “It’s the nature of opening the batting.
“You will nick off, they are allowed to bowl good balls, it swings, the pitch is fresh – so when you do get in it’s important to make it count.”
Asked about the run-making habit he and Root formed all those years ago, Bairstow confirmed an instinctive understanding has long been in place.
“We have known each other since we were 13. When we get together and are batting, it just all clicks.
“(We first met) at the indoor school at Headingley – on a scholarship programme at Yorkshire. We were both tiny tots back then.
“It’s been a great journey so far, and there are a lot more memories to come playing together.”
Bairstow is confident the rest of England’s powerhouse batting line-up will soon be back on track too.
“We are a fast learning team,” he said. “You don’t put a string of results together like we have before, and change the way we play so quickly, if you’re not fast learners and fast adaptors.
“The World Cup’s not tomorrow, or in two days – it’s in 16 months.
“This is part of the journey – it’s about getting it right for then.”
New Zealand have recalled Mark Chapman as cover for Taylor, who aggravated his thigh injury while batting in Dunedin and faces a fitness test at practice on Friday.
Provided by Press Association Sport
The David Warner-Quinton de Kock row has divided the cricketing world into two significant factions – one that believes sledging has always been a part of the game and the other that thinks things have got out of hand.
Both Australia and South Africa have accused each other of crossing the line and cricket followers have their own take on what is acceptable and what isn’t.
But former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, someone who has seen it all, is a firm believer in one of the oldest diktats in cricket – what happens on the field should stay on it.
The South Africa-Australia Test series has exploded into a barely-controlled street fight with Warner and De Kock kept apart in the Durban Test after their war of words escalated into alleged personal attacks.
Akram believes sledging has always been a part of the game but the biggest rule of all is that it should end with the day’s play and not spill outside the ground.
“We used to have a go at batsmen as well. And there were stump microphones. But that was (ended) there and then. After six o’clock, shake hands, have a cup of tea after the game, have a laugh,” Akram told Sport360 during an event in Dubai announcing his association with online cricket content provider CricInGif.
Akram admits things are said on the field and that is what makes cricket, especially Tests, unique.
“Do whatever you want to do. As a pacer you have the aggression, as a batsman you have patience. That’s the beauty of the game, being a top batsman and a bowler. But whatever you say and whatever you do should stay on the field,” the left-arm pace legend said.
However, the current team director of PSL side Multan Sultans said like every other sphere in life, there are certain boundaries any person is not allowed to cross. “You can’t get personal,” he concluded.
The swashbuckling left-hander had blasted his way to a 91-ball 123, clubbing a staggering 11 sixes and seven boundaries during his entertaining stay at the Zimbabwean city.
The century was Gayle’s 23rd of his ODI career but it was whom it came against that made it all the more special for the Caribbean star.
Wednesday’s ton means that the 38-year-old has now scored a one-day century against 11 different countries, making him only the third batsman in history to do so.
Chris Gayle today joined Hashim Amla and Sachin Tendulkar as only the third batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score centuries against 11 different countries #Cricket
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) March 6, 2018
Out of the 11 other full ICC members (including Afghanistan and Ireland), Gayle has scored a ton against all but three sides. They are Australia, Afghanistan and Ireland.
Apart from them, he has also registered centuries against Kenya, Canada and now the UAE.
In comparison, Tendulkar’s 49 ODI tons came against 11 different opposition. Among the full ICC members, the only countries he has not scored a century against are the two latest entrants – Afghanistan and Ireland. Apart from the full members, he has also registered hundreds against the likes of Namibia and Kenya.
On the other hand, Afghanistan is the only full member against whom Amla has not scored an ODI hundred. He has a ton against Netherlands which completes his list of 11 countries.