England beat India in a thrilling fashion thanks to two tons of Jonny Bairstow who helped the hosts win the fifth Covid-delayed test at Edgbaston. They reached their goal with more than two sessions to spare, with Joe Root (142 not out) and Bairstow (114 not out) leading them to victory, ensuring the five-game series ended in a 2-2 draw. Also Read | Amid criticism, Ganguly gives the verdict on the captaincy’s musical chairs; ‘It’s not ideal to have seven different captains, but…’
Bairstow hit superbly in both innings and his stay in the middle also saw a verbal exchange with star Virat Kohli, who tried to finish off the Englishman. Kohli had something to say to Bairstow about his ‘play and miss’ game. But after the brawl, Bairstow shifted gears and produced a bunch of high kicks, helping England post 284 in response to India’s 416 in early innings.
Veteran sailor James Anderson recalled the heated argument, saying that one should avoid provoking Bairstow. The fast player also revealed Bairstow’s words during their lunch break.
“Jonny wasn’t 80 and Virat was going up to him and sledding with him. I don’t know if you saw the difference in the hit rate? His hit rate was about 20 before Virat started sledding and about 150 later. The first words in the dressing room during lunch were: ‘When are they going to learn to close it?’ If there’s anyone you don’t want to rub the wrong way, it’s Jonny Bairstow,” said Anderson, who hosts the Tailenders podcast.
When Bairstow was asked if Kohli was “poking the bear”, he replied, “That’s a good pun, really.” The English scout played down the verbal fight, saying it was an integral part of the game.
Anderson further credited coach Brendon McCullum for providing clarity to the players. ‘Bazball’, which is derived from McCullum’s nickname ‘Baz’, has been linked to England’s drastic change in approach towards test cricket. England edged out New Zealand 3-0 and then managed a record-breaking chase in the rescheduled Test against India.
“It’s the freedom we have now. We’re not in hotel rooms, blisters, having to get tested for Covid every day and we can do normal things like go to the store, have a beer, see your friends and family. These things add up.” and, of course, the thrill of working with Baz and the clarity he gave everyone.
“Before we played in New Zealand, there was talk about going to the IPL and not playing municipal cricket, but Baz called me, said I was hitting five in the tests, to understand and break.”
“Baz also talked to me a little bit about imposing myself in the game – nothing technical. That can be tricky in red ball cricket because you don’t want to look like you’re trying hard,” Anderson added.