Bairstow threatens to take things further as Ashes aggression rises

The Ashes

After the Day 5 capitulation in Perth, you could be forgiven for thinking that England would be heading for Perth intent on saving face and trying to avoid losing. It is a script that is familiar enough to anyone who has seen previous Ashes series, as English hope and optimism gradually transforms into a desperate bid to avoid humiliation and a 5-0 whitewash.

But one man is far from whipped, and that is England’s outspoken wicketkeeper and part time head-banger Jonny Bairstow. To be a wicketkeeper demands more than just lightning reflexes and great hand eye coordination. It also requires an acid tongue and a thick skin. Sledging has always been part of the game, and the keeper is invariably in the thick of it.

Clashing heads and exchanging words

For Bairstow, the tour got off to a somewhat surreal start with the well-documented head-butting incident with Cameron Bancroft before a ball had even been bowled. From thereon in, the stocky Yorkshireman said in his newspaper column that he has been the target of unspecified verbals out in the middle.

Not one to be cowed, Bairstow’s response has been as bullish as you might expect. The 28 year old has almost adopted the attitude that the Australians are only sledging him because he is letting them. He commented that what is said in the middle stays in the middle, but that if there is a repeat of the words spoken in Adelaide, he will “take things further.”

Odds on a whitewash?

Verbal aggression is one thing, but what England fans are desperately hoping for is some application in the middle. They might have capitulated on the final day, but the second test was really lost on days one and two. Can they turn things around at the WACA? The latest UK offers from the top bookmakers do not make encouraging reading for England supporters.

Odds of a 5-0 whitewash have now dropped to just 2/1, while those who think a Christmas miracle might be on the cards can get 40/1 on an England series win. As for the third test itself, bookmakers are offering 1/2 on for the Australian steamroller to continue, while England are available at 3/1, with 4/1 for the draw.

Can Jonny silence his critics?

If England are to turn things around, they need first innings runs. 302 in the first test and 227 in the second were woefully inadequate, and the fact that we have yet to see an England test century on the tour tells its own story. A three figure score in the first innings at Perth would be the ideal way for Bairstow to silence the sledgers. He has made a start almost every time he has come to the crease, but on each occasion, he has failed to push on.

Bookmakers have him at 10/1 to score a first innings century at Perth, odds that will look tempting to partisan Yorkshiremen and objective sports bettors alike. The third test starts on 14 December after the two day friendly against Cricket Australia, so there is plenty of time to lay your money down.