Bairstow et al aim to emulate in-form batsmen
England’s batsmen are confident of following the example set by captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen as they prepare for the third Test against India in Kolkata.
Cook’s record-equalling 22nd Test century, in England’s victory at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium last week, was his second in succession after his tour-de-force 176 in defeat at Ahmedabad.
Pietersen’s 186 to help level the series, also a 22nd for England to put him and Cook at the top of the all-time list, was one of his finest innings.
England’s other frontline batsmen have so far failed to reach those lofty heights on this tour, but Jonny Bairstow - who made nine at number five last week - spoke today about the determination to do so.
“They played outstandingly well,” he said of Cook and Pietersen. “Cookie played brilliantly in the first two Tests, and then Kevin played the way Kevin does in Mumbai.
“It was an absolute pleasure to watch those two innings, and I’m sure the guys will take snippets out of those and implement them into their personal games. Anyone would do that from around the world.”
Bairstow reported England in appropriately fine spirits, at their first net session at Eden Gardens since a mid-tour break after making it 1-1 with two to play.
“It’s definitely an exciting time for us as a batting unit, and then obviously seeing the bowlers bowling so well was very pleasing for us and gives us a great deal of confidence coming forward into the third Test,” he added.
Those who bat around Cook and Pietersen are highly capable of producing the goods too, he believes.
“As a team, you always want that dovetail effect,” admitted Bairstow. “So that if someone does fail, someone else can step up to the plate ... and get a hundred.
“The batting is a strong unit ... I’m sure we’ll prove that.”
England’s batting line-up may look a little different in the third Test following the return of Ian Bell, who missed out in Mumbai to see his newly-born first child Joseph.
“He’s absolutely delighted. It’s obviously a fantastic moment for him in his life,” said Bairstow. “We’re all really pleased for him, to have had the little one.”
Bell’s return has added to the feelgood factor as England battle back in this four-match series.
“It’s really good to get him back, and everyone’s smiling about having the little one,” added Bairstow. “He seems very pleased to be back.
“The morale and confidence are obviously very high at the moment.”
Whoever plays for England in the match starting on Wednesday, Bairstow acknowledges that they will face no easy task against India’s spinners.
Cook and Pietersen’s wonderful hundreds last time out helped England to a 10-wicket victory, as Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann outbowled their hosts too.
Footmarks in the bowlers’ run-ups betray the fact the pitch for the third Test was used for a Ranji Trophy match barely three weeks ago.
“Those first two Tests were very tough ones, but we’re really looking forward to the third one here at Eden Gardens,” said Bairstow.
“It’s still going to be tough. I don’t think you can say that (they have solved it) at all. We know coming out there there are going to be challenges left, right and centre - whether that be with the spin, the conditions or reverse-swing.
“We know it’s a massive challenge for us, but we’re looking forward to dealing with it in the next Test.”
If he does get his chance to do so, Bairstow has already made one assurance - that he will not be walking off again, as he did in Mumbai, after being caught via the helmet of a bat-pad fielder.
“It was a bizarre one,” he said, of the catch taken by Gautam Gambhir off Ojha. “I didn’t really know the rules personally, but I should perhaps read the laws of the game a bit more.
“It will be something I’ll definitely learn from. If it does happen again, I will be staying there.”