There was almost something poetic about Jonny Bairstow’s knock today. In a nutshell it summed up so much that had gone wrong in the past. That Adil Rashid was there at the end as well, was strangely appropriate. Two talents somewhat unfulfilled at the international level. Two “what ifs”. Two players seemingly relishing their chance to shine.
Today’s win is one of the really good ones. It’s the one dug out of adversity, when you are, to all intents and purposes, dead in the water. You are left 45 for 5. The rocks on which we are building this revival had gone – Hales had failed at the top of the order, Root had gone at three, and then so did Morgan. With no Buttler to fall back on, it was now up to rookie Sam Billings, and fallen young star Jonny Bairstow. As I drove back from Costco in Croydon, in the middle of a rainstorm I heard the two lads put the partnership together to cement the innings and give us a shout. When Billings went, Bairstow piled on. I got back to see the end. Bairstow with cool hitting getting us home, and yes, with a bit of luck too, with the drop by Santner almost certainly costing the New Zealanders the match.
But the symbolism of a talent, abused and ignored by England for so long, bringing a new era home was not lost on me. Bairstow had become the world’s most experience drinks carrier. He was called up rarely, often without much in the way of top class cricket under his belt in the weeks building up to his appearances. He’d come into teams either shot of confidence, or knowing he wasn’t there for long. He’d been over-sold when he made a 95 at Lord’s against South Africa, or that 50 at Cardiff. But he’d be in and out more times than an Hokey Kokey convention and he withered. Today was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I’m thrilled for him, and I’ve not said that about a cricketer in ages. I thought it was reminiscent of the KP innings against Australia at Bristol in 2005 – maybe not as violent, but every bit as important because this won a series, this continued momentum, this set down a bit of a marker, and it was against pretty large odds. Good luck.
I’m not going to go into huge detail on the game. I’ll leave that to thelegglance who is going to do a series review in the next day or two. But a series win is important, but in the whole scheme of things not that important. It was the manner in which we played, it was seeing some of our talent set free. I love that more than anything. Adil Rashid was excellent with the ball today. Mark Wood looks like he loves it out there. Jos Buttler is a man with talent to burn. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are the rocks at 3 and 4. It’s a team to get behind. It’s a team that enthuses.
On to the Ashes. And the return of those who were noticeable by their absence. ABC will return. They have a momentum they have to ride with, not destroy. We’ll be watching. Carefully.