There is no substitute for international cricket – England’s Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow admits there is no substitute for international cricket as he looks to get his game in shape for England’s World Cup defence.
Bairstow looked in fine touch as he hit an unbeaten 86 from 60 balls to lay the platform for an emphatic 95-run win over New Zealand in the second Vitality International T20 clash at Old Trafford on Friday.
The World Cup begins in India in just over a month’s time and, having played only four matches in the Hundred since the Ashes ended in July prior to this series, Bairstow is pleased to be back in action.
“I just wanted to play, to be quite honest with you,” said the 33-year-old. “I wanted to be back out playing white-ball cricket because I think that the natural rhythms of the games, whether it’s T20 or 50-over cricket, is something that, especially when you’re playing internationally, is something that’s very hard to replicate.
“You can play the Hundred, you can play for Yorkshire, but the different bowlers, the pressures, the crowds, the pitches – everything that comes with playing international cricket – is very difficult to replicate.
“So I was very keen to play these T20s leading into the ODIs and then, naturally, leading into the World Cup in a few weeks’ time.”
Bairstow combined in a thrilling 131-run partnership with Yorkshire team-mate Harry Brook from just 65 balls.
Brook, who was controversially omitted from England’s provisional World Cup squad, hit five sixes in a blistering 36-ball 67.
Debutant Gus Atkinson then took an impressive four for 20 as New Zealand slumped to 103 all out in reply.
They now head to Edgbaston for the third encounter of the four-match series on Sunday with a 2-0 lead after an equally-comfortable win in Durham on Wednesday.
The sides will also play four one-day internationals this month and Bairstow expects the Kiwis – coincidentally England’s first World Cup opponents in Ahmedabad on October 5 – to bite back.
“They’re a blooming good team, New Zealand,” Bairstow said. “They’ve been an exceptional team for a long period of time and we know how dangerous they can be.
“We can’t take for granted how good these two performances have been. We’ve also got to look at how good they actually are as well, but we’ve played some exceptional cricket these last two games.
“And if we can keep doing that – and keep doing that over a longer period of time – then that can only be a good thing.
“It builds confidence, it builds an environment within the dressing room that enhances people’s performances when they go out in the middle.
“They feel like they can hit the ball for six, they feel like they can take a wicket each ball. They feel confident enough to take a risk.”
New Zealand seamer Adam Milne accepts his team need to pick themselves up for the games to come.
He said: “I think we’ll have to just regroup, but we like to keep things pretty calm in our changing room – not get too high, not too low.
“I think we’ll have a bit of a review of the game and just try and find those little bits of improvements in our games and hopefully come out at Edgbaston and throw some shots from our end.”
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