Cricket World Cup 2019: Bairstow adamant England can hold their nerve in wake of Pietersen criticism

Nick Purewal 21:35 27/06/2019
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England opener Jonny Bairstow.

Jonny Bairstow has insisted England will hold their World Cup nerve, dismissing criticism from Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan as “just showbiz”.

Yorkshire star Bairstow has vowed Eoin Morgan’s side will not tense up for their do-or-die clashes with India and New Zealand.

Pietersen branded skipper Morgan “scared” in the hosts’ 64-run loss to Australia, while former captain Vaughan fears England could be headed for their worst-ever World Cup.

Three defeats in seven round-robin matches leave the World Cup hosts battling for semi-final qualification, but Bairstow believes any panic is consigned to those outside the England camp.

“It is just showbiz: they are paid to have an opinion, and if they don’t have an opinion they get sacked,” said Bairstow, of Pietersen and Vaughan.

“I was in a radio interview and was surprised with a clip of Vaughan’s comments. Bloody hell. That’s pretty rich. But of course people are going to say things, of course they are.

“Because we’ve done so well, any opportunity for someone to see we’ve lost two games, they were always going to jump on it.

“People were waiting for us to fail. They are not willing us on to win, in many ways, they are waiting for you to get that loss, so they can jump on your throat.

“It’s a typical English thing to do, in every sport. Look how successful Eddie Jones was, then all of a sudden a training camp is wrong and it’s his fault. The same with Stuart Lancaster.

“At the end of the day there’s 30 blokes sat in the meetings and in the dressing rooms that know what we’ve been working towards for the last three years.

“So it’s not just the players staying true to it, it’s the coaches, the medical staff; it’s a collective, and that’s what we have been.

“Now we just have to be relaxed: the more you tense up, then the more you’re going to go into your shell and therefore not play how you’ve been playing.

“The more true to ourselves we can be, you can almost go the complete opposite to what we’ve done to be really honest with you. That’s how you get your 480s. You almost go the complete opposite.”

World number-one side England entered their home World Cup with many tipping the pre-tournament favourites to break the 500-run barrier.

Unexpectedly tricky pitches have left all the teams unable to match the hefty scores of the last few years though, leaving Bairstow insisting England have no need for radical changes.

“We’ve obviously messed a couple of games up, but our method doesn’t change,” said Bairstow, speaking after a school visit with charity Chance to Shine as part of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week.

“If you suddenly go striving for different things from what have stood you in good stead over a period of time then you’re searching for something that you are probably not going to find.

“None of the pitches throughout the whole tournament have been as true as they have been previously; I have no idea why. But the scores have not been as high as they have been over the last two years in England, even New Zealand have got 230.

“So it’s almost going back to where it was two, three years ago, around the world. I’m not making excuses: we’ve not played well enough to beat sides when we should have done.

“And we should have got over the line in at least two of the three. Just because we’ve lost two games – yes it’s in a crunch tournament – and people start talking it’s not going to change the way we go about it.

“But we’ve now got four knockout games all the way to the end of the tournament and that’s exciting.”

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