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West Indies vs England: Jonny Bairstow revels in batting up the order after inspiring Twenty20 victory

England’s four-wicket victory saw Bairstow hit a career-best 68 off 40 balls

Rory Dollard
Gros Islet
Wednesday 06 March 2019 09:33 GMT
Jonny Bairstow enjoyed batting higher up the order after leading England to victory over the West Indies
Jonny Bairstow enjoyed batting higher up the order after leading England to victory over the West Indies (Getty)

Jonny Bairstow enjoyed taking centre stage as England began their Twenty20 series against the West Indies with a four-wicket victory in St Lucia.

With regular openers Jason Roy and Jos Buttler among four players rested for the final leg of the Caribbean tour, the ever versatile Bairstow was shunted to the head of the innings for the first time in 28 matches.

With so much firepower back at home, there was plenty of extra responsibility on the 29-year-old, a burden he carried lightly as he led a successful chase of 161 with a career-best 68 in 40 balls.

"I think that (expectation) is a great thing to have on you, a feather in your cap," he said.

"To be able to say you're staying to play and to get an opportunity opening the batting when I've previously batted in the middle order was great fun.

"I'm pleased because I've not played too many T20s recently and it was good to be able to go out and play with freedom and enjoyment."

Bairstow was revealed as the busiest man in international cricket when the numbers were crunched last year, totting up 91 on the field in a 12-month period.

He wears his status as England's marathon man proudly and never contemplated asking to be rotated out after a demanding tour.

"What's that saying, 'Calypso cricket'? When you get an opportunity to play T20 cricket in the Caribbean, it's a chance to play with a smile on your face and that's what you do," he said.

"I look at it as another opportunity to play cricket for England. Hopefully I stay fit, stay strong and stay healthy. It was 91 days last year and it's going to be similar this year.

"But that's been the same for the last seven or eight years... long winters and long summers. It's exciting."

Jonny Bairstow was in superb form for England (Getty)

England's winning position owed as much to a calm display with the ball as it did after the turnaround, with Tom Curran outshone by a couple of colleagues despite finishing with figures of four for 36.

Adil Rashid's control and ability to turn the ball both ways rendered him the standout bowler in either team, while Chris Jordan offered up three accomplished overs that saw him claim the prize scalp of Chris Gayle as well as a fine caught and bowled.

"I thought the bowlers were magnificent," England captain Eoin Morgan told Sky Sports.

"Taking early wickets put us on the front foot and that's something we've struggled to do on this white-ball tour.

Bairstow was at the heart of England's four wicket victory in Sri Lanka (AFP/Getty)

"Adil's proven over the last four years he's got the ability to come on at any stage and threaten both sides of the bat. His variations are getting better, he's getting more confidence to bowl them and he's a big asset for us.

"Chris came back in and bowled well and Tom Curran got four wickets, but I thought Rashid bowled really well."

England depart for St Kitts on Wednesday, with the last two games of the tour due to take place at Warner Park over the next five days.


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