Tag: Jonny Bairstow (page 2 of 2)

A veritable smorgasbord of draws in the latest exciting instalment of the 2016 County Championship

This week’s matches varied incredibly. We had fraught, tense, hard-fought draws; ambling draws that were obvious from a mile out; and everything in between. The 2016 County Championship is not yet proving to be a competition in which people win cricket matches.

The fraught, tense, hard-fought draw

Yorkshire gamely went after a tough fourth innings target after Chris Read had gritted, nurdled and punched a hundred from number seven. In so doing, they almost capitulated. But they didn’t. It was a draw.

The other three matches

In Surrey v Durham, Ben Stokes took seven wickets on a pitch where 457 was followed by 607-7 and then 244-6. It’s not really worth paying attention to who made runs because it was basically everyone. The match finished in a draw.

We presume it rained during Hampshire v Middlesex. Both teams batted at three an over, made moderate totals, but ran out of time to resolve things. It was a draw.

Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone made a hundred in his second match after making 70 on his debut the other week. Sadly, even The Great Neil Wagner couldn’t prevent quadragenarian Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick from batting out the match in partnership with the youthful tricenarian, Chris Rogers.

Draw.

Ballwatching

Nottinghamshire were on telly this week, so we got to see a bit more of Jake Ball. Just as we suspected when we read that he was ‘the brisk side of fast-medium,’ he actually appears to be ‘resolutely fast-medium’.

This is okay though. He’s tall and appears to swing and seam it without flitting between good balls and toss ones, so he’s still got plenty going for him. We were hoping he’d have everything going for him, but we hope for a lot of things and almost none of them come to pass.

One time we hoped that there was still water in the kettle and there was. That’s the only positive outcome we can think of off the top of our head.

Highlight of the week

With each passing replay, we had less and less of an idea what the actual balls Jonny Bairstow did to a delivery from Stuart Broad on the final day of the Notts v Yorkshire match. Dropping down on one knee, he seemingly wrist-swept an offside wide through midwicket. For six.

It was a kind of flat-batted flamingo shot played with entirely immobile arms. How he propelled it beyond the ropes is entirely beyond comprehension.

This seems a bit of a wishy-washy doubt-filled way to end proceedings, so we’re instead going to try and add a more definitive note of finality by writing ‘the end’.

The end.

Except it isn’t, because you never said who was top of the table

Nottinghamshire. By a point from Warwickshire, who are two points ahead of Middlesex. Lancashire are a further point back but with a game in hand.

We knew we’d forgotten something. Doing the top-of-the-table thing is a good way to finish as well. We really are going to have to start remembering it before we first click ‘publish’.


Why it’s time to drop Ben Stokes

Cricket - Investec Test Series 2015 - England v New Zealand - Lord's Cricket Ground, London, England

Ben Stokes makes things happen. Against South Africa in Cape Town on the second day, he made time distort such that England appeared to make 312 runs in just 38.5 overs.

At one point the TV commentators were reduced to debating whether the ball had landed on the railway line or in the brewery. After a while, Mike Atherton thought of something else useful to say. He pointed out that Jonny Bairstow was also batting.

Most people hadn’t noticed, even though the Yorkshireman was midway through making 150 not out off 191 balls – celebrating three figures in such a way that it left no doubt that this was the Test hundred that his late father, David, had never made.

That Bairstow became a sideplot was down to the sheer all-consuming brilliance of Ben Stokes’ innings. Carnage has rarely been so enduring. As it was a Test match, there was none of that running out of overs and giving someone else a go bollocks. He shifted into 86th gear early on and just remained there, entirely unaffected by any kind of deadline.

If he was seeing it like a football, then he was seeing it like a neon football having had special neon football tracking cyberware installed in his eyes. He hit the ball hard. He hit the ball hard a lot. The innings was basically Ben Stokes’ greatest hits.

The impact was such that at the lunch break, Nasser Hussain was actually sombre with admiration. His brain simply didn’t know what to do. It settled on sombre, which was obviously wrong, but also understandable. This was uncharted territory. Asked how the England team would be feeling, Ian Botham said they would be “literally circling the moon”. Perhaps he meant on a diagram of the solar system. This would be a strange way to celebrate one of the great partnerships, but just what was the correct response?

If momentum really were a thing, Stokes won’t be coming to a stop until some point in 2017. Conversely, he may never be due again.

They should probably drop him.


Hotwiring Jonny Bairstow

Despite recent media coverage, Alex Hales is not actually in competition with Moeen Ali. He is, we’d guess, competing with Jonny Bairstow. Alastair Cook wants plenty of bowlers in 40 degree heat which means Adil Rashid will finally get to play a Test in the UAE. In which case who misses out? Well if Hales opens, it’s probably Jonny Bairstow.

With all the talk about restructuring county cricket, we’ve seen a lot of ‘don’t mess with the County Championship – it’s what’s produced all of these England players’ type articles. It’s not a bad competition and indeed it has given rise to some good players. The thing is, it’s impossible to know how good they would have been had they been playing in a different competition.

It’s striking that England aren’t entirely sold on Jonny Bairstow and we’re sure that must say something about domestic cricket. We wouldn’t be surprised if he were left out of the first Test team and yet he averaged 92.33 with five hundreds in the Championship this year.

If a 26-year-old scores a thousand runs in your domestic competition and scores at 4.5 runs an over, shouldn’t you be desperately trying to force him into your team, rather than allowing him to slip out of it? If Bairstow were a car, England would drive around in him but would routinely leave him unlocked and not shed too many tears if he were stolen.


Who’s got gloves? Have you got gloves? Okay, you’re picked

Say what you like about Craig Kieswetter’s work behind the sticks, at least he owns a pair of gloves. We’ve half a mind that he’ll end up as England’s Test wicketkeeper simply because he’s the only one who spends any time actually keeping wicket.

Today’s Yorkshire report on Cricinfo centres on Jonny Bairstow. The angle is that if Matt Prior can’t prove his fitness, Bairstow may well play as wicketkeeper in the first Test against Sri Lanka. For the record, Prior hasn’t yet kept wicket this season. And nor has Bairstow.

Their other rival, Jos Buttler, is making a concerted effort to make up for not really having been a wicketkeeper in the past by trying to get a full season in behind the stumps for Lancashire. After three matches, he is now away with England.

But back to Bairstow. While he wouldn’t necessarily be our first choice, we do feel that he got the faecal end of the stick during the winter. Having barely played – as either a batsman or as wicketkeeper – he was brought back into the side and scrutinised. An Ashes series is no place to try and get over a bit of rustiness. It was reminiscent of Chris Read’s raw deal in 2006.

We’re not really sold on Bairstow being a wicketkeeper at all, but we also don’t think his recent international performances should be considered ‘the norm’.


The number six doorway

Enough of the eye-catching swing bowling. What is this website for if not for accentuating the negative? Let’s focus on England’s batting.

We still haven’t really settled on a firm opinion regarding England’s approach in the first Test. We’d probably grade it ‘acquiescent’. We don’t think it was as bad as some are making out, but nor do we think it was acceptable in the conditions. Run-scoring was hard and basically they just seemed to accept that.

The problem is that the top five are all primarily reactive batsmen. They play according to the situation. They don’t particularly look to shape it. For any given batsman, that’s a perfectly valid approach, but five of them in a row feels like washing your hands of responsibility and handing the match outcome over to fate.

If England want to address that, we see three main options.

  1. Encourage the current batsmen to be more flexible in terms of their approach
  2. Replace a batsman or batsmen
  3. Shuffle the batting order

Number one is probably not particularly realistic. Alastair Cook has shown adaptability via other formats, but his Test approach is grooved and successful and this is perhaps even more true of Jonathan Trott. Nick Compton and Joe Root should be left to their own way of doing things at this early stage and Ian Bell is just Ian Bell. He responds to public desires like a balloon to the point of a knife.

Option two seems harsh on any of those five, even if there appears to be fundamental dissatisfaction with Compton from some quarters. People are incredibly quick to talk about dropping him, even though he’s made two hundreds in his last four Tests.

People assume that option three isn’t a goer because of the unwritten rule that says that batting positions four to six in the England team are decided based on seniority. Whoever’s most established in the Test team bats at four and the sixth choice batsman bats at six.

Why does this have to be the case?

Jonny Bairstow is the only current England batsman who is at all proactive in approach, so he could potentially draw a line under top order automatism through appearing at four, possibly influencing the innings as a consquence. Furthermore, if he’s the one most likely to be dropped when Kevin Pietersen returns, doesn’t it make a degree of sense to have him batting in Pietersen’s position? Why does number six have to be the only doorway in and out of England’s middle order.

By the way, this probably doesn’t matter.


Jonny Bairstow isn’t bothered

Jonny Bairstow holding a cricket bat and looking at something

You wonder whether it’s worth England batting Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order. It’s not that he’s particularly suited to the role, but if the opposition remain hell-bent on bouncing the shit out of him, it might soften the ball a bit for all the batsmen who follow.

Turns out Jonny Bairstow doesn’t really have a weakness against the short ball – at least not a significant weakness; not a debilitating Suresh Raina level of incompetence. He can duck okay and he can play the pull shot. He’ll probably get better with more experience.

As it stands, he’s good enough to make 72 not out against a quick attack on a decent pitch under clear skies. This isn’t to damn him with faint praise. It’s just stating the facts. There was plenty to admire about his innings without turning it into fiction.

Mostly, like England’s last ginger right-hander, he just doesn’t seem that bothered by stuff. At one point, he half-left and then tried to play a ball which pretty much grazed his off-stump. A lot of batsmen would feel a bit nervy after that. Bairstow genuinely seemed to find it funny.

That’s a reassuring response. A nervy batsman would have played with self-conscious certainty at the next delivery. They’d want bat on ball. Bairstow left it.


Is Jonny Bairstow the next Ravi Bopara?

Ravi Bopara in an actual Test match

Regular readers will know we rather like Ravi Bopara. We don’t think he’s the next Bradman or owt, but we do think he’s probably England’s sixth best batsman.

People don’t like picking the sixth best batsman. They have it in their heads that there must be someone better out there to take the sixth batting slot. Maybe there is, but perhaps that person could make a better fist of highlighting their quality and make life easier for all of us.

27-years-old

Ravi’s at a good age for Test cricket now. He’s had his share of ups and downs and he knows a spangly Test career doesn’t come easily. That’s healthy. That’s the point at which Jonathan Trott arrived in Test cricket. That’s the point at which Matt Prior and Ian Bell started looking the part.

This is why we’re completely irritated that Ravi’s got himself injured. His winter was a complete pain in the arse, sitting and watching Eoin Morgan spazz around for a month before sitting and watching Samit Patel do little better. He was due a turn. He was due a few innings to make a case for himself. He’s only had two Test innings since the juvenile Ravi died in the 2009 Ashes and he was not out in the last of those.

But he’ll have to wait again

Jonny Bairstow’s been promoted to the Test team in Ravi’s place and we worry he too will slip into the no-man’s land just outside the Test side in years to come. He’s young enough that if he fails, he could find himself dragging ‘evidence’ of his shortcomings around for years to come, smiting county attacks all the while.

Hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully Bairstow will make 500 on his debut in an innings that will later be considered disappointing in light of his subsequent achievements. However, that would sentence Bopara to another spell of driftage and that would get on our nerves.


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