Dmitri #3 – Jonny Bairstow

Image result for jonny bairstow

The very short tradition of the Dmitris is that one goes to an England player who has performed well this year, and who hasn’t won the award before. In 2014 I shared it between Ali, Ballance and Buttler – the new hopes for English cricket. In 2015 it went to Joe Root. For much of 2016 it was an even battle between Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes. It was desperately close, and it has to be said, the recent tour has not favoured the Warwickshire man (although he’s an absolute dead cert for a Wisden Cricketer of the Year, eh, Lawrence?).

Jonny Bairstow has been a rescue act all year, scoring the most runs by a wicketkeeper in a calendar year (aided by having 17 test matches to do it, but still magnificent) and doing so by refining his game without totally reining in his natural attacking instincts. He brought in 2016 with a superb, emotional, 150 in that carnage in Cape Town. It may have been overshadowed by Ben Stokes rampage but it was incredibly important, as his batting at that time had to mask some of his keeping inadequacies. What was also lost that on a nervy Day 5 he steadied a very rocky boat with a 30 not out. That would be much of his role for the rest of the year. Jonny Bairstow had so many rescue acts to perform, he’ll be auditioning for the role of Scott Tracy in any Thunderbirds movie.

The thing I also liked about his three centuries were they were all decent scores post that mark. 150 not out, 140, 167 – a DBTA of 78.5 – and although his problem now seems to be converting 50s into 100s, that is a much better problem than having extended barren spells as Jos Buttler went through before he was dropped. Bairstow has had two single figure scores in tests in 2016 (Cook has had 6, Moeen has had 8, Stokes has 4 (all on this Asia tour) which shows his consistency.

Bairstow came into the team in 2012, on the back of a brilliant ODI the year before, but never settled, and then found himself thrust in the limelight of the KP phone hacking scandal! His 95 at Lord’s was ridiculously lauded by Shiny Toy – who said if he’d made a hundred it would have been the greatest first century he’d ever seen – but once he’d lost his place (after a not bad Ashes 2013, but not a convincing one), and with Buttler the coming phenom, opportunities looked scarce. Given the hospital pass of replacing Prior at the end of the Difficult Winter, he was replaced by him again in early 2014, and waited his chance. He returned for the last three tests of the 2015 Ashes, outscoring Australia’s first innings on his own at Trent Bridge, and then hasn’t missed a test since. He’s one of the first names on the team sheet.

He’s also a fine ODI player, but is part of the logjam. He doesn’t let us down when he does play as his match and series winning innings in the 2015 matches v New Zealand shows.

He’s also improved his keeping – Chris is a much better authority than me on the technical aspects – and I don’t see any reason why Buttler should take the gloves from him.

So Jonny Bairstow is this year’s winner. Over 1400 runs, a sound old record, a man in possession and tenaciously holding it. Well played, sir.


24 thoughts on “Dmitri #3 – Jonny Bairstow

  1. Philip Chapman Dec 21, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Great choice.
    His batting has been brilliant this year and shows it is possible to reinvent your technique to meet the demands of test cricket. Something that many others, including his new county captain have not tried. Although I do fear his recent lack of conversions is due to fatigue after keeping and then not getting respite from the top order (I expect a statto to prove me wrong here!)

    Well played Johnny. The most improved player around, alongside Woakes.


  2. thelegglance Dec 21, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    He’s keeping reasonably. You’ll always find better ones, but the way of the world is that they have to be able to bat too. Given the conditions in India, he did reasonably enough. Some chances went down, but they’re always going to given the nature of the pitches and the bowling.

    To be fair, the England bowlers didn’t beat the bat all that often…


    • jennyah46 Dec 21, 2016 / 5:01 pm

      Is there really no room for a specialist keeper? Missed stumpings and dropped chances can cancel out the runs scored. This is no reflection on Bairstow, just a questiin mark over the current modern policy.


      • thelegglance Dec 21, 2016 / 5:06 pm

        That’s an argument that’s been going for decades. The irony is that with England playing so many all rounders – Stokes, Moeen, Woakes – there probably is. But I wouldn’t hold your breath for them to do it, keeping isn’t viewed as a truly specialist position any more, they have to be able to bat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Silk Dec 22, 2016 / 8:03 pm

        I’d argue that with Stokes at 6, irrespective of how the tail bats (and with Woakes, it bats deep) we could have a ‘proper’ keeper at 7. If we play Ali as a frontline bowler (not something I’d recommend) then the rationale for asking YJB to keep and bat is weaker.

        YJB could clearly be a candidate for captain were it not for his keeping, I suspect.


  3. BobW Dec 21, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    I would argue that on the sub continent it is a necessity to have a specialist keeper where standing up is a required skill. Elsewhere in the world where keepers stand back and the skills are less prevalent I think you can get away with poorer keepers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyah46 Dec 21, 2016 / 7:20 pm

      You are right on that but I I’m still one for a specialist keeper at all times. Obviously they can’t be a complete dog with the bat but most of them have always been able to do a bit when push comes to shove.


  4. Tregaskis Dec 21, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    Packing the middle order with so many all rounders does present problems that, I think, have been exposed on the India tour. It is far from clear what the best batting order is amongst Ali, Bairstow, Stokes and Buttler, and the definition of each of their roles seems far from clear, at least to them.

    For me, Ali at four or five is too high. He’s been at his best at seven. Then four or five is too high for Bairstow if he also has the gloves. Buttler at seven or eight as a specialist batsman causes all sorts of problems in terms of the balance of the team. Nor should a specialist batsman be batting so low that they are left 6* at the end, which has happened a couple of times with Buttler. It is a waste of resource. Yet, even as a fan, I do not see him in the high middle order.

    My view is that if Buttler stays in the team he takes the gloves, and Bairstow becomes the specialist batsman. A batting order of, say, Cook, Hameed, Jennings, Root ©, Bairstow, Stokes, Ali and Buttler (wk) has a better feel to it for me.

    If Bairstow surrendered the gloves to Buttler, he should not consider it a reflection on the job he has been doing, but a necessary adjustment to streamlining and balancing the team. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Dec 21, 2016 / 6:25 pm

      The additional issue with Moeen at four arises if he’s just bowled 50 overs. Irrespective of his merits of a batsman, the bloke is going to be knackered physically and mentally, and then has to at least get his thigh pad on straight away.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jennyah46 Dec 21, 2016 / 7:10 pm

      I agree with everything that you have written. Buttler at 7 sans gloves is a nonsense and as you say, I can see him compromised higher up the order. Right now he is coming on nicely where he is. Give him the gloves and there will be a far better balance to the side.


  5. Mark Dec 21, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    Without his runs this year Cooks captaincy would be a smouldering burnt out wreck. It’s bad enough as it is, but it would be even worse. He has bailed out the top order time and time again. Always thought Bairstow was badly handled by previous management. He very nearly got England home against SA in the Lords test. Always thought he had the talent.


  6. simplyshirah Dec 21, 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Oh yes. Johnny Bairstow. Love him. Love him. Love him. Although often not cared for by the usual suspects. Great choice me Lord.


  7. quebecer Dec 22, 2016 / 2:59 am

    It’s interesting what Johnny did with his technique. I don’t think it’s really the overhaul that’s been suggested, but rather more of a refining; in fact, a simplification. Firstly, he’s much more still in in stance. He used to bob around a bit, but that’s been minimised, especially as the bowler bowls, meaning his head is quite still as the ball is bowled. Maybe this also helps with the bat coming down straight when playing defensively straight, too. He’s always had that strong bottom hand, but the problem with such players can often be driving straight and not taking it through midwicket, and he’s managing this now.

    Secondly, he’s driving beautifully through extra cover now, where as before it used to slip squarer. He plays late, but that extra cover drive is now one of the best around.

    A third shot that’s improved is his cut. He’s still got high hands in his stance, but he’s minimised the bat movement when cutting now, and it’s become a very efficient shot when compared to the bid ol’ swish it used to be, hence the reduction in nicking off from it.

    I love what he’s done with his technique. It seems a perfect case of tightening without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Philip Chapman Dec 22, 2016 / 6:41 am

      He is also taller at the crease which allows him to get his head to/over the ball better


    • thelegglance Dec 22, 2016 / 10:43 am

      Head position is and always has been the key to batting. The bottom handedness only becomes an issue if the head is too far over, because it then forces playing across the line as the bottom hand takes over. As the series went on we saw a similar outcome with Cook who is very much a top hand player – he ended up playing around the front pad, which is another side of the same coin.

      Basically, Bairstow didn’t have anything radically wrong with his technique, it was just a tweak and muscle memory getting used to the change. Plenty of players find their technique to be less perfect than they realised when they get to the top level. Bairstow put in the work, which is hugely to his credit.


    • Zephirine Dec 22, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      Obviously losing is the new winning.


  8. Zephirine Dec 22, 2016 / 11:44 am

    I could see YJB as Test captain, I think he has real strength of character, great honesty.

    He’s also a beacon of hope for all small boys who get teased for being ginger. In fact, the day when we can put together an England All-Time Ginger XI draws ever closer.


    • thelegglance Dec 22, 2016 / 11:46 am

      Not as keeper though. It’s too much to do. The miracle of Dhoni wasn’t that he was a great captain, because he wasn’t, but that he was as good as that while keeping wicket.


      • Zephirine Dec 22, 2016 / 1:40 pm

        Yes, he’d have to let someone else keep wicket.


  9. BobW Dec 22, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Coming back to the batting order are we not at risk of moving your best players out of their natural positions? (Like Root for example) Bairstow as a wicketkeeper/batsman is going reasonably well(though I would argue his keeping is in need of improvement) Move him to four as a batsman only, do you take away the safety net that makes him such a good batsman where he is?
    I would leave him as he is and try Hales at four. Opening can be a tough place and maybe being at four will suit him better. At times Hales has shown potential for Test match cricket but he lacks the consistency.


  10. Benny Dec 23, 2016 / 11:06 am

    I admire Bairstow for battling through the mistreatment – all that time as a drinks waiter, so not getting match practice with England nor with Yorkshire. Same for James Taylor. We can indeed produce good players. Handling them properly would be a good idea.


  11. veturisarma Dec 23, 2016 / 9:57 pm

    how did the DBTA came up to 78.5? the scores over 100 add to 157 and 157/3 is 52 odd….is there something I;m mising in my math


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