The Riverside Durham, Chester-Le-Street, July 3, 2019: Under bright sunshine at The Riverside Durham, Jonny Bairstow became the first England batsman to score successive centuries in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
His back-to-back tons helped ensure that England will compete in a World Cup semi-final for the first time since 1992, when Bairstow had not yet reached his third birthday and two members of the current squad had not even born.
It was in this majestic setting in the shadow of the 14th-century Lumley Castle – an hour or so’s drive north from where he went to school in York – that Bairstow rebooted his one-day international career four years, also against New Zealand.
His ferocious unbeaten 83 off 60 balls batting at number seven took England to a rain-affected three-wicket win and 3-2 triumph in a celebrated series that formed the springboard for Eoin Morgan’s turbo-charged tilt at a maiden 50-over title.
Bairstow has batted three times in ODIs at the Riverside and he has never failed, averaging a mere 144 (Jonny Bairstow successive centuries).
He fills his boots too when he plays for Yorkshire, racking up 521 first-class runs on the ground at an average of 52.
Has a taste for this opponent too. Has scored three successive one-day centuries against New Zealand and averages 81.
None of his nor his team-mates success comes by chance.
The afternoon before the match, as the England players were winding down after practice, Bairstow stood on one of the used pitches towards the pavilion side.
He arranged three orange t-shirted net bowlers on the off-side boundary – one at cover, one at extra cover and one at long -off.
Graham Thorpe, the batting coach, threw for Bairstow to hit ball after ball – clean and hard, essentially practising hitting ‘inside out’, the sort of shot he might he need against the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner.
And then as his mini session concluded, he could be seen offering explanations and insights to one of the young lads who had stood sentry so willingly for the England batsman.
His century came from a flick off the hip to a Tim Southee full toss that sped away for four. His celebration contained all the emotion that we expected to see against India last Sunday but never materialised.
The capacity crowd roared their approval and even chanted his name. Among the crowd were Jonny’s sister Becky and Sir Ian Botham, chairman of Durham Cricket and a former England team-mate of his late father David.
Bairstow raised his bat, extended his arms, kissed the badge on his helmet, punched the air and then made a curious gesture of rubbing his hair that clearly a team in-joke and much enjoyed by Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali on the dressing-room balcony.
Against India, it was his partner Jason Roy who raced out of the traps while Bairstow had to take his time.
Against New Zealand, the opposite was true. Bairstow was timing the ball sweetly and punishingly from the off while Roy was less fluent initially.
“Jason and I complement each other,” Bairstow wrote in his newspaper column before the New Zealand game. “Players score in different areas. Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer were like that for Australia. We pose different challenges to the bowlers so the opposition captain is always having to try different things.
“It is about targeting different areas to different bowlers. The general message between us is to play strong cricket shots. As long as we do that then it is a good platform to start from.”
They produced their third successive century opening stand and their tenth overall in their 31st innings together at the top of the order for England.
Of all opening pairs who have batted together 30 or more times in ODI cricket, Bairstow and Roy have comfortably the highest average per partnership.
Their 67 runs for every visit to the crease is all of 15 runs ahead of the next best – the legendary West Indies pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.
As individuals they lead the way also. Of all the openers with 1,000 or more ODI runs in history, Bairstow and Roy have the two highest strike-rates. And they are just getting started. —- ICC