Teams Played For
England, Yorkshire, England Cricket Board XI, Peshawar Zalmi, Kerala Knights, Sunrisers Hyderabad
When you think about Jonny Bairstow, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, he is one of the pioneers of England cricket of the modern generation who played a pivotal role in helping England win their maiden ICC World Cup in 2019. A sensible yet hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman, Bairstow hails from West Yorkshire and played all his domestic cricket there.
Cricket came very naturally for him at an early age and he soon started taking giant strides in age-group cricket. After a sensational season with the bat in 2007, he was awarded the Young Wisden Schools Cricket of the Year. An inclusion in the Yorkshire second XI followed and he made an immediate impact and came into recognition after scoring 308 runs at an impressive average of 61.6 back in 2006. In the same year, Bairstow was awarded a full-time contract with Yorkshire.
Yet again Bairstow impressed in his first-class debut scoring 82 in the 2nd innings of the match. Despite being a regular member of the county side, Bairstow was unable to convert his starts into big ones but the following year his inclusion in the England Lions squad followed with a maiden first-class century which he converted into a double which paved way for his selection in the national squad for an ODI against Ireland. However, an international debut eluded him as he was not picked in the XI.
His international debut was a memorable one as he scored a match-winning 41 of just 21 deliveries to take his side home in the 5th ODI against the West Indies. Bairstow was scoring plenty of runs for Yorkshire in the domestic circuit which eventually led to his selection in the Test series against West Indies in 2012. However, his Test debut was far from impressive and he was overlooked from the following Test series against the Proteas. However, a dramatic ouster of Kevin Pietersen led to his comeback and he seized the opportunity with both hands.
He smashed a classy 95 and also hit a half-century in the 2nd innings to announce his arrival in the longest format. He was part of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 but hardly made a contribution. It took Bairstow quite a few times to establish himself in the longest format. After a couple of mediocre Ashes series, his breakthrough in Tests came in 2015 during the tour of South Africa. He scored his maiden Test century and was involved in a sensational 309 runs partnership with Ben Stokes and scored 359 runs in the series at an exceptional average of 89.
The following year was special for Bairstow not only with the bat but also behind the stumps. He amassed 1470 runs at an impressive average of 58.8. He established himself as a brilliant player of spin and churned out runs for fun in the subcontinent that year. His 70 dismissals behind the stumps remain the most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in a calendar year.
Despite impressing in the subcontinent Bairstow was eager to score runs in the Ashes, which is regarded as the greatest rivalry in Test cricket. The magnitude of the Ashes is pretty intense for an Aussie and an English and he needed to prove his worth in the biggest stage. England was annihilated by the Aussies in their den but Bairstow had made a mark with a sensational century in Perth. He also started off well in most of the Tests but was unable to convert it into tons. After the sort of promise he showed, he would have liked to finish with a few more runs in the series.
Despite accomplishing himself as an important member of the Test team, Bairstow was finding it very difficult to break into the limited-overs team owing to the prowess of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler. After a lean time from Jason Roy, Bairstow found his chance in the ODI team at the top of the order. He didn’t take much time to get going as he smashed a couple of centuries in the home ODI series against the Windies. The following year he became the first English batsman to smash 3 consecutive ODI tons. The later part of the year was a dip in form and his spot was in serious doubt with Alex Hales also fighting for the opening spot.
However, with Alex Hales’ name getting withdrawn from the World Cup squad, it made Bairstow an automatic choice for the openers slot in the World Cup. He had a good World Cup scoring 284 runs with a ton and a couple of half-centuries. Part of the World Cup-winning squad, Bairstow is currently one of the leading English players in both Tests and ODI’s.
The wicket-keeper batsman made a sensational IPL debut in 2019 and with David Warner at the top of the order, he proved to be a nemesis for the opposition bowlers. He smashed 564 runs in just 13 matches at an impressive average of 51 and a strike rate of 146. He has looked in good touch in this year’s IPL as well as scoring 119 runs in the first 3 matches. The hard-hitting batsman will definitely want to help SRH win their 2nd title this year.
On his first-class debut in 2009, he top-scored with an unbeaten 82 in the second innings. He went on to become a regular in the county side over the next two years and averaged more than forty in both. He scored eight fifties, but could not convert them into triple-figure scores. 2011 turned out to be a better year for the youngster, as he was selected in the England Lions squad for the tour to West Indies in January. In May that year, he scored his maiden first-class century (which he converted into a double) and was picked for the national squad to play against Ireland in an ODI game in August. However, he was not selected in the playing eleven.
His first international appearance came in the fifth ODI game against the visiting Indians in Cardiff, and he made it special with a stunning 21-ball 41 to help England win the match. Further success during a warm-up match against India and in the T20s against Pakistan led to Bairstow's first Test call to face West Indies. At the beginning of the 2012 season, Bairstow had hit two brilliant hundreds for Yorkshire and was eager to capitalize on that achievement. His Test debut against West Indies, however, was not that eventful and was mediocre with the bat.
He was then ignored for the first two Tests against South Africa in 2012 in favour of Ravi Bopara but was recalled for the third Test when Kevin Pietersen was dropped. Bairstow responded effectively by hitting a gritty 95 and left the field to a standing ovation. He again hit a classy half-century in the second innings but it was not enough to help England to victory. He later went on to hit his second-highest first-class score of 182 against Leicestershire at Scarborough in the LV Championship and also managed a terrific 68* in the semi-finals of Friends Life T20 against Sussex.
Although Bairstow was selected in the England squad for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, his contribution was negligible and failed to flourish with the bat. Bairstow was included in the England team that toured India in 2012-2013 and performed exceptionally well in the warm-up match against Mumbai A, hitting a remarkable 118. He was only included in the squad for the second Test to replace Ian Bell but did not make a significant contribution to warrant inclusion for the third Test.
A strong 64 laced with powerful cuts and controlled pulls at his home ground in Headingley against the Kiwis in 2013 handed Bairstow his much-awaited Ashes debut at Nottingham. However, Bairstow managed only a lone fifty in the 4 games he played to cap a rather shoddy series. Bairstow then travelled to Australia for the return Ashes series and played a couple of games at Melbourne and Sydney respectively, but could not do anything special to bail his side of trouble. It was the tour of South Africa in 2015 that saw Bairstow turning to his best.
The wicket-keeper batsman made his maiden Test hundred in Cape Town, was involved in a stunning 399-run stand with Ben Stokes for the sixth wicket and ended the series with 359 runs at an astonishing average of 89.75. He then began the home summer with two tons against Sri Lanka. A solid series against Pakistan was followed by a solid showing in his first tour of the sub-continent. 2016 was a year to remember for Bairstow - not just for his 1470 runs at an average of 58.8 but also for his 70 dismissals as a wicket-keeper, a record for the most dismissals by a keeper in a calendar year.
Every English and Australian player is defined by how they fare in the Ashes. Although England suffered a hammering in Australia during the 2017-18 series, Bairstow was among the very few visiting batsmen to impress. Unlike many of his mates, he seemed comparatively at ease against Australia's rampaging pace attack and also had a century to his name in Perth. Given the number of starts he got, Bairstow would be disappointed at having under-achieved through the series. However, it was a tour that was only going to improve him mentally.
Bairstow found it hard to break into the XI as the wicket-keeper batsman in the shorter formats - courtesy Buttler's heroics. However, his imperious form during 2016-17 coupled with Jason Roy's lean patch forced the selectors to pick Bairstow as the opener. It didn't take long for him to make a mark as he notched up two centuries in the home ODIs against West Indies in 2017.
In 2018, Bairstow became the first English batter to record three successive ODI tons. The latter part of that year though saw Bairstow lose his form. When he twisted his ankle while playing football in training during the away series against Sri Lanka, it almost seemed that he had gifted his spot in the playing XI away as three players (Bairstow, Alex Hales and Jason Roy) were competing for two spots. However, Alex Hales’s withdrawal from the World Cup squad in a way solved the team management’s problem as the opening spot was fixed.
Bairstow has been an integral member of the ‘New England’ team which not only entered the multi-nation competition as the ranked one side in the world but also as one of the favourites to win the tournament. Bairstow showed his batting prowess in his maiden IPL season in 2019 - scoring 445 runs in 10 innings - and his partnership with Australian David Warner was one of the major talking points of the tournament.
The Yorkshire star had all the expectations of the world on his shoulders because he was one of the flag bearers of the all-attack theory that England had mastered in the build-up to the 2019 WC. But nerves did get the better of Jonny for the first part of the tourney. He started the mega event with a duck and could only register fifty-plus scores against Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
However, as they say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Bairstow roared back with back-to-back tons in must-win games against India and New Zealand to see England into the semis. In between, he had few arguments with former skipper Michael Vaughan which got the media talking. With a World Cup title, Bairstow's attacking batsmanship was hailed in white-ball cricket, but the same attacking instincts caused frictions in his Test technique, a flaw which was exploited mercilessly by bowlers worldwide and resulted in the batsman getting dropped ahead of the tour to New Zealand in 2019.