Jonny Bairstow’s form with the bat was under the scanner as England locked horns with Australia on day two of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s with the Yorkshireman struggling for runs in red-ball cricket in 2019.
The England wicketkeeper-batsman had managed just 16 runs in his last five Test innings while his red-ball average in 2019 stood at a dismal 13.78 heading into the Lord’s clash.
With the likes of Ben Foakes waiting in the wings, the pressure was on Bairstow to deliver if he wanted to retain his spot in the playing XI and he passed that test with a fighting half-century against the Aussies on Thursday.
The Englishman’s 52-run knock helped the hosts post a first-innings total of 258 after it looked like they would fold under 200 at one stage. Here, we take a closer look at Bairstow’s display on day two of the Lord’s Test.
Balls faced: 95
Bairstow arrived at the crease with England reeling at 136-5 before Ben Stokes’ dismissal reduced them to 138-6.
The right-hander led the hosts’ fightback with Chris Woakes for company in the face of some disciplined Aussie bowling, and got the prize for his grit and determination in the form of a 21st Test half-century.
He started running out of partners at the other end and this forced him to go on the offensive but it also proved to be his undoing in the end. Bairstow was the last English batsman to be dismissed after he skied a Nathan Lyon delivery into the hands of Usman Khawaja.
The right-hander had previously shown a vulnerability to the incoming delivery and the Aussies made sure to target that on day two. However, Bairstow was more resolute with his technique this time around despite the odd shaky moment and looked to mostly play straight down the ground.
He shunned his bad habit of leaving a large gap between his bat and the pads while playing at incoming deliveries and reaped the rewards with some thumping boundaries down the ground.
He was good with the on-drive and leg-side flicks against the pacers while he was also solid against the off-spin of Lyon for the most part.
While he did manage to grow in confidence as the innings wore on, Bairstow did have some nervy moments at the start. He was late to react to the very first delivery he faced with Pat Cummins nearly ratting his stumps while he was lucky that an outside edge off Peter Siddle fell just short of David Warner at first slip.
Despite all his hard work prior to getting to his half-century, Bairstow will be disappointed to not add some more runs to his name. The ball was getting older and there were some easy runs on offer if the England wicketkeeper had been more patient instead of trying to hit Lyon out of the ground.
It was a much-needed innings for the Englishman and it will do his confidence a world of good for the remainder of the Ashes series. His place in the squad was very much in question coming into the Lord’s Test despite the show of support from the selectors and team management.
His excellent knock on Thursday has not only helped him regain a footing in the Test squad but also given hosts England something to fight for in the Lord’s clash when things could have been a lot worse for them on day two.
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Jofra Archer offered a tantalising glimpse of his Ashes potential as England attempted to bowl their way back into the second Test having been dismissed for 258 at Lord’s.
After a washout on day one, visiting captain Tim Paine made the brave call to field first in what appeared welcoming batting conditions, the first Australian captain to insert the opposition since February 2016.
The gamble largely paid off, England’s innings subsiding shortly before 6pm, but battling knocks from Rory Burns (53) and Jonny Bairstow (52) provided a foothold in the game.
Stuart Broad removed David Warner with a beauty as the tourists reached 30 for one at stumps, but Archer, England’s most eagerly anticipated debutant since Kevin Pietersen, turned in a compelling six-over cameo that hinted at plenty more to come.
He was wicketless at the close but generated a tangible electricity at the same ground where his super over helped England win the World Cup just a month ago.
His second ball in Test cricket almost flattened Cameron Bancroft’s off stump, his third topped 90mph and his 10th appeared to claim an edge that went unnoticed by everyone on the field.
The buzz around the 24-year-old masked a good day for Australia, for whom the recalled Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took three wickets each as they preyed on a fragile top six.
The day’s play was dedicated to the Ruth Strauss Foundation, with the stands a sea of red and both teams honouring former England captain Andrew Strauss’ late wife by donning commemorative caps and shirts. A total of £382,462 was raised.
Strauss sons rang the five-minute bell and collected the mementos from the players but the sense of bonhomie and collaboration was quickly replaced by a typically hard-fought day of Ashes cricket.
🗣 "It's a great opportunity for them to remember their mum"— Lord's Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) August 15, 2019
Andrew Strauss describes what it meant for his sons, Luca and Sam, to ring the five-minute bell this morning.#LoveLords | #RedForRuth pic.twitter.com/CI02LuAxIE
Any apprehension Paine harboured about his decision evaporated midway through the second over, with Jason Roy dismissed for a brief, but torrid, duck.
Hazlewood’s first ball drew an uncertain waft of the bat, his second beat the outside edge and his third grazed the bat on the way through. Roy has just 43 runs in four innings as a Test opener and the suspicion that he may need to drop down the order to thrive is only growing.
Hazlewood was only getting started, though, reeling off three successive maidens on a consistently challenging line before nipping one back into England captain Joe Root and thumping the knee roll in front of leg stump.
Root did not challenge the lbw decision but departed reluctantly, perhaps in fear of what might unfold. Things could have deteriorated further, Burns dropped at gully on 16 and Joe Denly clattered on the helmet by a pumped up Cummins, but the pair held firm as they added another 50 runs before lunch.
Having surrendered some of their momentum Australia reset during the interval and took the next four wickets for 62. Denly was the first, taking another nasty blow on the arm before becoming Hazlewood’s third victim of the day courtesy of a thin edge.
A second reprieve for Burns, this time by Paine, allowed him to bring up a determined half-century but his luck was about to catch up with him. He fell to a memorable grab at short-leg, Bancroft staying low, springing sideways and gathering one-handed at the second attempt.
That brought Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes together at Lord’s for the first time since their game-changing partnership in the World Cup final, but there was no encore. Buttler fiddled outside off stump to give Peter Siddle his first success and Stokes fell lbw sweeping Nathan Lyon. Between them they had eked out just 25 runs and conjured a pair of soft departures.
At 138 for six the game – and possibly the series – was slipping from England’s grasp. That they did not lose their grip entirely was down to Bairstow, coming in on the back of four successive failures.
He put on 72 with Chris Woakes, driving crisply and correctly whenever invited and building up enough confidence to unveil a deft reverse sweep off Lyon.
Just before tea he had nudged England past 200 but once again Australia used the break in play to their advantage. Woakes had batted with impressive care and attention for 32 but it took only one well-directed bumper from Cummins, thudding the back of the helmet as the all-rounder ducked, to undo him.
Woakes passed a concussion test but was rattled, lasting just a couple more balls before gloving another rib-tickling delivery through to the wicketkeeper.
The barrage of bumpers continued for the rest of the innings, Archer succumbing after one flamboyant cut for four. Lyon wrapped things, bamboozling Broad before Bairstow holed out chasing late runs.
The expectations on Archer were palpable as England took the field and he came within a whisker of cleaning up Bancroft with his second ball, a whizzing, hooping inswinger, then breached 90mph with his next two.
Archer should have been toasting a first Test scalp in his second over, but nobody on the field heard the nick which UltraEdge appeared to detect as the ball skimmed Warner’s bat.
In the end it was Broad who did for the left-hander, flicking leg stump with one that tore through Warner’s defences, but Bancroft and Usman Khawaja fought through to the end.
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West Indies veteran Chris Gayle has confirmed that he has no intentions to retire for now following the completion of the ODI series against India on Wednesday.
Gayle struck a 41-ball 72 in the third and final ODI at Trinidad while wearing a special jersey with the number 301 on his back. It was the southpaw’s 301st ODI appearance for Windies and the extended send-off he was given by the Indian players post his dismissal sparked rumours of a potential international retirement.
The Jamaican poured cold water over those rumours after his side’s six-wicket loss and confirmed to Windies Cricket in a video that he has not announced any retirement plans.
The 39-year-old was originally due to retire from international cricket post the completion of the 2019 World Cup in England. However, he changed his mind midway through the tournament and expressed his wish to feature in the ongoing series against India.
Gayle was granted his wish by Windies Cricket with the opening batsman making full use of that chance to go past Brian Lara’s ODI run-tally and become the highest run-getter for his country in the format.
“To my knowledge, he [Gayle] has not retired,” West Indies skipper Jason Holder said on Wednesday.
“But today was an example of his career. He was entertaining, he showed presence, and that’s just what people have come to expect of Chris Gayle over the years.”
Gayle has not been picked for the upcoming two-match Test series against India although he had previously expressed his desire to play one more five-day game for West Indies.
It now remains to be seen whether the veteran batsman features in West Indies’ upcoming tour of the subcontinent in November where they are slated to take on both Afghanistan and India.