Bairstow knows potential of Kallis wicket
Jonny Bairstow may only be in his fourth Test, but he appreciates how important Steven Finn’s late dismissal of Jacques Kallis may prove to England’s prospects of victory at Lord’s.
Finn had Kallis lbw, despite a review, for 31 in day three’s closing overs to break a stand of 81 with Hashim Amla and bring the hosts back into a game they must win to share the series and remain top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
Shortly after Finn struck, South Africa closed on 145 for three, with Amla 57 not out, a lead of 139.
In such an even contest, Bairstow also understands the value of tomorrow quickly adding to today’s three breakthroughs made in intense heat.
“We were toiling pretty hard all afternoon, so to come away with that important wicket near the end was fantastic,” Bairstow said.
“It’s pretty level. There’s two days to go so there’s a lot of cricket. 180 overs in any game is huge.
“If we can get a few wickets early on and then get the full seven, we’ll be looking to chase down anything we’re set.”
Bairstow was chiefly responsible for England taking a first-innings lead of six, although he understandably had mixed feelings about being bowled by Morne Morkel for 95.
The 22-year-old right-hander did not turn his first Test fifty into a maiden five-day ton, but he was happy to perform in a match he may not have expected to play in a week ago.
“I was pleased with the way that I played,” he said. “To get 95, I was delighted. A bit disappointed not to get to the 100. Although it is only five runs, it would have been nice.”
Bairstow revealed his captain Andrew Strauss’ sentiments about an innings that began when England were 54 for four, a position from which he added 124 with Ian Bell.
“He was delighted with the way that I played,” Bairstow added.
“Obviously it was a tough period when I came in, so I was happy to ride that.
“Ian Bell played fantastically well as well during that period and that partnership.
“As a side were pleased to get up there and go past them.”
Like Strauss, South Africa were impressed by Bairstow - as assistant coach Russell Domingo explained.
“He played really well and we maybe didn’t execute our plans as well as we would have liked to at the start of his innings, but full marks to him,” he said.
“He stuck to his plans well and played particularly well this morning after gusting it out yesterday.”
Bairstow was dropped from the Test team after disappointing run-scoring in his first three Tests earlier this summer versus West Indies, who targeted him with short fast bowling.
He went on to explain his work in the mean time with Yorkshire and England Lions, both of whom he scored first-class centuries for in the last month.
"When you kind of get exploited in some sort of way, you go away and look at things,” he said. "But at the same time, there were no drastic changes that I made.
"You work on your strengths, and look at little things you can improve on.
"I went away and worked with Martyn Moxon and Graham Thorpe over the last couple of weeks - little improvements.
"It's not going to happen just like that. It's something that's ongoing.
"You can't just change via the click of a finger. It goes through practice, through stages. You're going to fail (sometimes) by going through those changes.
"I've implemented some of those things, but at the same time there's still a way to go.”
This game also has some way to go and Domingo was content with the Proteas’ score.
“If someone had said to us at the start of the tour ‘you’re 1-0 up and 150 for three with two days to play’, you’d have taken that,” he said.
“We’re pretty happy with the position we’re in at the moment. We know there’s a lot of hard work left tomorrow.”
Despite needing only to avoid defeat to win the series and take over from England at the top of the rankings, Domingo stressed South Africa are playing to win here.
“We want to try and find a way to win the game,” he added.
“We’re always going to play to try to win the game. If we play defensively and play for draws you can find yourself under pressure.”