Sometimes, once in a long while, a player comes along who exudes the right stuff. The hairs of the neck stand on end while the spine tingles. Jonny Bairstow pulled off this complicated little feat yesterday in scoring 104 not out for England from 53 balls which included six fours and eight sixes.
It was a masterful innings and although the opposition was negligible, that could not dilute the highly impressive manner in which Bairstow went about his work. He had already entered the consciousness, of course, by propelling England to an improbable win against India at Cardiff last month when he biffed 41 from 21 balls.
There was much more where that came from against a Hyderabad Cricket Association XI bewildered by the rapidity and fashion of his scoring. Bairstow flicked and drove and reverse-swept and slog-swept, spin and seam treated alike, all with a poise and command which bespoke a batsman going places. And, boy, did he hit the ball hard. None of his array of compelling strokes better epitomised his jolly exhibition than the last. He was on 98 with one ball of the innings left and simply launched it over long-on some 15 rows back, as if any other outcome was beyond contemplation.
"I actually didn't know," he said. "There was only a little scoreboard which didn't have individual scores and it was only reaching the dressing room that I knew I'd got a hundred. I was just in the zone." Bairstow batted at five only because Ian Bell, inevitably, went down in the nets with a dose of, yes, Delhi Belly. He may not easily relinquish the position.
Nor was this all in England's roistering win by 253 runs. Scott Borthwick, the 21-year-old Durham leg spinner, also befuddled the opposition in taking 5 for 31, the wickets coming in 29 balls for eight runs. Stuart Meaker, to boot, took three wickets in an over on his first appearance.
Borthwick caught the eye almost as much as Bairstow. He gave the ball a rip, quickly found an appropriate pace for the pitch and undermined the reputed ability of Indian batsmen to play spin with a stick of rhubarb.
Three England batsmen also made half centuries, Alastair Cook, Craig Kieswetter and Jonathan Trott.