'Jonny was tested in certain areas but he has worked on it. He handled it brilliantly'

 

Jonny Bairstow could be forgiven for having the image of Kemar Roach uppermost in his mind as he walked to the wicket yesterday for perhaps the most important innings of his nascent England career.

Bairstow struggled against Roach's short deliveries in his first two Tests, against West Indies earlier this summer. Here the South African close fielders were quick to remind England's young No 6 of those difficulties, mentioning Roach's name several times as Bairstow tried to establish himself at the crease.

As if that were not enough, Bairstow also knew he was in the team only because Kevin Pietersen, England's most high-profile player, had been dropped. This is only Bairstow's fourth Test and judgements are necessarily provisional, but if he can overcome these mental bugbears and score 72 not out against one of the best bowling attacks in the game, we can guess at least that he has a strong backbone. And, of course, this is a Test that England must win to stop South Africa replacing them at the top of the ICC rankings. So, no pressure.

Bairstow and Ian Bell added 124 for the fifth wicket to help England recover from 54 for 4. Bell's dismissal in the final session dented the home side's improving day, but they were quietly satisfied to reach 208 for 5 at stumps, a deficit of 101. If Bairstow had been worried about Roach or Pietersen, Bell said, he had hidden it well.

"I don't think he would've thought about it," Bell said. "When the squad got together, winning this Test was the only thing on our minds. If we had been thinking about other issues, Jonny would've been under a lot of pressure, but he was just himself and that seems to have worked really well.

"He was tested in certain areas, but he has worked on those and he handled himself brilliantly. He has to do it again today but what he has done already is fantastic.

"He didn't try anything different and he didn't change anything as he got further into the innings. He scored a century for England Lions against Australia A, so he came here in pretty good nick and with great confidence."

Bairstow eschewed the chest guard during his last Test appearance at Lord's, against West Indies in May, but he was more cautious here and looked more confident with the extra protection.

Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn are two of the most fearsome fast bowlers in the game, but Bairstow handled their threat with confidence and maturity. "Against West Indies, maybe Jonny didn't know whether he wanted to take on the short ball or get under it," Bell wondered. "Here, he committed to doing one thing or the other.

"When he wanted to avoid it, he showed good technique to get his hands out of the way against Morkel and Steyn, and when he wanted to take it on, he made sure he committed to it."

This morning Bairstow and Prior will have eight overs to negotiate before the second new ball is taken. England will need their lower order to do a similar job to that of South Africa's, who put on 146 for their final four wickets.

"It will be an action morning," Bell added. "With Prior, Bairstow, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann to bat, there won't be much blocking around."

Bell played patiently for 58 before he was tempted into a loose stroke by Vernon Philander, who took 1 for 30 to add to the 61 he completed in the morning. He was impressed by Bairstow, and said: "We saw the footage of what happened against West Indies, but he played very well. [England] have quite a long tail, so things are playing into our hands."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
filmEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering