Cricket: England v West Indies

View from the Nursery End: Lord's Day 3

Jonny Bairstow made only 16 runs, but oozed class on debut

View from the Nursery End: Lord's Day 3

He may have only scored 16 runs and faced only 27 balls. He may have only batted for 40 minutes. But Jonny Bairstow showed enough on his debut Test innings to suggest he will be around this England side for many years to come.

The ease with which the 22-year-old dealt with the biggest occasion in his career so far tells you more about him than the runs he scored. Debuts are not always a good indication of how long a Tes career will last.

Indeed, England’s batting coach Graham Gooch began his Test career with a duck and went on to become one of England’s all-time greats.

As Bairstow is a Yorkshireman, he may be even more reassured by the fact that the greatest of all batsmen from the Broad Acres – Sir Leonard Hutton – made a duck and a single in his first Test, against New Zealand, in 1937. Conversely, John Hampshire, another Yorkshire batsman, began with a hundred but did not fulfil that early promise and only played in eight Test matches. So we have to look beyond statistics so early in an international career.

Bairstow looked composed from the start of his innings. He was tested by his first ball, a rearing delivery from Kemar Roach, but he stood tall and took the blow phlegmatically on the chest. His steely stare at the bowler showed he was unflustered and meant business.

Bairstow is a prowler. No doubt to keep his concentration, he walked out to square leg and back between every ball. But his body language was good. There was none of the self-effacing timidity which undermined Ian Bell’s presence at the crease when he first batted for England.

No doubt Bairstow was nervous and the risky single he took to get off the mark suggested as much. But he also exuded a calm confidence, unphased by making a debut in front of a full house at Lord’s.

In his brief cameo, there were three shots of such authority that they had the stamp of a player of the highest potential. A well-timed flick of his legs, a nudge of his hips, then a cover drive played very late through point oozed class.  

Even when he was dismissed lbw by umpire Erasmus, Bairstow showed great maturity in accepting the decision and walking calmly off the pitch. Some of his more esteemed teammates may not have resisted the temptation to call on the DRS.

There was also a magical moment of natural athleticism from Bairstow when he ran out Kirk Edwards after Bravo had turned down a run with Edwards halfway down the pitch. By far the fastest runner in the Yorkshire squad, Bairstow pounced at cover point, collected the ball smoothly and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end in a trice.

At St Peter’s School, in York, Bairstow was an outstanding sportsman. He averaged more than 200 in the cricket XI, played rugby for the school and was on Leeds United’s books at football.

Sadly, his father was not here to see his debut. The former England and Yorkshire wicketkeeper, David Bairstow, took his own life in 1998 when Jonny was eight years old. But Bairstow’s mother and sister were here to see the debut and visited the Five commentary box to say hello to Five commentator Geoffrey Boycott, a close family friend.

Boycott said: “He is a special talent, and I’ve no doubt he’s going to be a very good cricketer indeed.”