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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