England’s Jonny Bairstow believes he can play a role anywhere amongst their top six batsmen after a magnificent match-winning performance in a five-wicket victory over South Africa in the first Twenty20 International at Newlands on Friday.
England were in trouble at 34-3 in the sixth over, chasing 180 to win, before Bairstow bludgeoned nine fours and four sixes for an unbeaten 86 from 48 balls to take them to victory in a perfect audition for next year’s T20 World Cup in India.
He batted at number four with England choosing to open with Jason Roy and Jos Buttler, who both failed on a slow wicket that was not easy for stroke-making.
“It is something you have to enjoy, having played different formats of the game, whether you are opening or batting at number six, you learn to craft your innings in different ways,” Bairstow said at the post-match presentation.
“Different surfaces will change our (batting) order, but we are fortunate to have people who can come in and play different positions. The rate went up 13 (runs per over) at one point, but if you look at our lineup, we always feel we are in the game.”
Bairstow’s innings was particularly eye-catching given how most other batsmen struggled on the sticky surface. “The ball bowled into the pitch was tricky, they were bowling a lot of slower balls. You have to try and maintain your weight forward, which is hard when it is pitched halfway down and they are bowling at 140 clicks (km per hour),” he said.
Bairstow might feel his performance is also some personal vindication having been dropped by the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the end of the Indian Premier League. “I was happy with how I played over there, even if I did not finish the tournament playing, which was disappointing,” he said.
The second match in the three-game series against South Africa is in Paarl on Sunday.