Fired-up Bairstow leaves bat to do the talking
CHESTER-LE-STREET, England (AP) — There's nothing "negative and pathetic" about Jonny Bairstow's batting at the Cricket World Cup.
They were the words used by former England captain Michael Vaughan to describe fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow for suggesting that pundits wanted England to lose at the tournament.
Bairstow has acknowledged that criticism fired him up before scoring 111 against India in a crucial win at the weekend, and he has followed that with a knock of 106 on Wednesday to set England up for a 119-run win over New Zealand and a spot in the semifinals.
"Back to back 100s .. That's the way to do it Jonny Bairstow," Vaughan tweeted during the match against New Zealand. "Me and you must fall out more often."
Bairstow and fellow opener Jason Roy — who have three straight century partnerships in this World Cup — appear to hold the key to English success over the coming 10 days as they look to win a global 50-over title for the first time.
They set the tone for the innings with their positive, aggressive strokeplay, and have become England's best ever opening combination. By bringing up 100 in the 15th over, they achieved their 10th century stand since being thrown together over the last two years after Alex Hales lost his place in the team.
Roy has missed three games in this tournament because of injury and England lost two of them — to Sri Lanka and Australia. It plunged the tournament host and top-ranked side into some turmoil, leaving them needing to beat India and New Zealand to guarantee qualification to the semis.
Back in situ against India, they put on 160 for the opening wicket to breathe new life into England's once-formidable batting lineup. On Wednesday, the opening stand was 123 until Roy fell for 60.
"I think batting together for a period of time helps," Bairstow said. "You understand each other's games, each other's moods, get a feel for certain bowlers on certain pitches. The communication is key."
Bairstow was relentless as he went through his repertoire of strokes against New Zealand, including a straight drive for four in which he held his pose and then a straight six down the ground.
He flicked a full toss for four to bring up his century, and leapt in the air in celebration. England captain Eoin Morgan said Bairstow produced the "match-winning" innings.
"I thought we were outstanding today," Morgan said, "and it started with the two boys again at the top of the order, laying a good solid platform, batting how they do.
"It's not really calmness, it's more excitement. Guys are buzzing and smiling at how ridiculous some of the shots the two guys are playing. Good balls are being hit for four or six."
Bairstow seems to thrive when he is answering back to critics. It's as if he welcomed those comments from Vaughan to ignite a spark inside him at a critical stage in England's World Cup campaign.
England might be happy for Vaughan to get back on Twitter if this is the result.