INTERVIEW: Bairstow keen to make perfect start

Denzil Pinto 04:37 19/03/2015
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On the ball: Jonny Bairstow wants to impress one and all at the Emirates Airline T20 tournament.

Jonny Bairstow has fond memories of Dubai. After all, it was in the emirate that he scored his first international half-century in February 2012; his unbeaten 60 helping England level a T20 series against Pakistan they would go on to win 2-1.

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The 25-year-old returns to the UAE with Yorkshire as they look to claim the honours at tomorrow’s (Friday) Emirates Airline Twenty20 in Dubai.

With the tournament also featuring Lancashire, Sussex and the MCC, the wicketkeeper-batsman won’t be taking the event lightly. “To start the season with a win would be very good. We don’t just want to win the semi-final (against Lancashire) but also the final,” he said, after a Yorkshire practice match at the Nursery Ovals in Abu Dhabi.

“I want to score as many runs as I can and put on a good show in Dubai. Obviously, to win the tournament would be something very special.”

As with any tournament, winning won’t be easy, especially as England opening batsman Alastair Cook and 2011 World Cup winner Yuvraj Singh are among the players in the MCC squad.Yorkshire are seeking to retain their County Championship title in 2015.

Bairstow refused to concentrate on the two star players, emphasising that the key to success is teamwork.

“It’s going to be a strong tournament and there are lot of good players involved with Yuvraj Singh and Alastair Cook playing,” said Bairstow, who has played alongside the former England ODI skipper.

“It’s good to see they are playing here and we can test ourselves against the best. But cricket is a team game and Yorkshire have got a lot of good players with plenty of experience and we can certainly do well.”

With no pre-season matches scheduled in England, the competition will be significant ahead of the new campaign, which begins next month.

“The individual performances are equally important for the team as we all want to impress. It also gives us the chance to address what we need to work on when we go back home (to Yorkshire),” he explained.

When Bairstow does go to the crease tomorrow, he will have adjusted to conditions in the UAE. He scored 77 in a practice match played between his Yorkshire teammates, while today (Thursday), he will line up against Middlesex at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in the capital. Yet he remains cautious.

“The nature of wickets here varies but we’ll see what happens,” said Bairstow, who won the 2008 Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year award.

“I’m not taking anything for granted because we all have to adapt to the conditions on the day quickly.”

Since joining Yorkshire in 2009, he has made huge strides with his club efforts earning him an England debut, an ODI against India in 2011.

Last season he won the County Championship and had nothing but praise for head coach Jason Gillespie, the former Australian bowler.

“Jason Gillespie has got a lot of experience, hasn’t he,” he said. “He’s played for a very successful side in Australia and he’s passing that knowledge to us.

“He wants us to improve in all aspects and it’s all the tiny things that he talks about which we all take in.”

Happy to play all formats, Bairstow isn’t surprised that T20s have become a huge success. He said: “Without a doubt, T20 cricket is moving forward. The overall scores are very high and that is having a positive effect on 50- over cricket and that’s good to see.

“I don’t change my approach for 50-over, T20 or Test matches. You just have to focus on your mind and take the calculated risks of what shots you want to take.”

On Sunday, he will be using the same approach with a pink ball when Yorkshire play the MCC in a day-night four-day match in Abu Dhabi.

It’s part of an on-going experiment to promote day-night Tests with this year being the sixth time the pink ball will be tested. Like many of the Yorkshire players, Bairstow will be stepping into unknown territory, having played with white and red balls. But he feels only time will tell whether this become a success.

He said: “I’ve never tried playing with it before. In some areas of the world it may attract more people, but in some countries it may not. Only time will tell and it’s part of a trial and error process.”

Earlier this year, Bairstow was part of the England Lions squad and scored two half-centuries (64 and 63) and also held on to six catches against South Africa A in seven matches (two first-class and five List A). He is now looking forward to what will be the final preparation before the season kicks off.

“I was in South Africa with the Lions and it’s nice to be refreshed after three weeks. Spending as much time as I can out in the middle is beneficial and if I spend time in the middle, hopefully everything will click and I can score as many runs as possible. I spent time away from cricket and to be back with Yorkshire to UAE is very exciting.”

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