Ashes tour diary: Jonny Bairstow savours the moment while workaholic Joe Root begins early preparation

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·4-min read
Ashes tour diary: Jonny Bairstow savours the moment while workaholic Joe Root begins early preparation
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  • Pat Cummins
    Pat Cummins
    Australian cricketer
  • Stuart Broad
    English cricketer (born 1986)
  • James Anderson
    English cricketer, born 1982
  • Jonny Bairstow
    Jonny Bairstow
    English cricketer (born 1989)

One of the great things about cricket, is that it asks its participants to do jobs they are no good at.

This is never truer than at the end of a tight Test like this one, with all sorts of players in uncomfortable positions, asked to do jobs they are not necessarily cut out for. So Stuart Broad and James Anderson were batting to save the game for England, and Steve Smith was striving for the key final wicket.

And then you have the fielders. With every man round the bat, even Australia’s fast bowlers were suddenly key close catchers. Australia skipper Pat Cummins donned the helmet, even when he moved to backward point to save the single.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been under the lid fielding,” he said. “I was trying to remember if I’ve done it in junior cricket. It’s fun. I can’t see the ball, I don’t know how they do it!”

Of the frustration of trying and failing to bowl out Anderson and Broad out, Cummins said: “I much prefer when Anderson and Broad are batting together than bowling together”.

Fair point.

Marketing guff

While we’re on the subject of Cummins: Cricket Australia’s latest nauseating idea from the marketing department is to introduce him to the crowd when he comes on to bowl as “Your Captain, Pat Cummins”. Err, not everyone in the ground is Australian….

Jonny be good

Jonny Bairstow has had an emotional week. Two days after the 24th anniversary of his father David taking his own life, Bairstow scored his seventh Test hundred, and first for three years. Two days later, he soaked up more than 100 balls as England saved the game. He is understandably keen to savour the moment, grabbing himself a stump and asking his team-mates to sign his shirt.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Back with the boys

England Head Coach Chris Silverwood’s head is on the block, and he has received plenty of criticism – much of it fair, much of it not – for his handling of this tour.

But nothing will have been tougher than the powerless feeling of being stuck isolating with his family 1,000km away from his team as they battle hard to save a Test.

The good news is that he and his family have all recovered from Covid and he will rejoin the squad in Hobart in the next few days. The same is true of Jon Lewis’s family, who have already flown across to Tasmania. Jeetan Patel and Darren Veness, the other two positive cases in the camp, have been back with England for a couple of days.

Another silver lining for the Silverwood clan: Jonny Bairstow is the coach’s young sons’ favourite player to watch, so at least they got a treat.

England will have Lateral Flow Tests before travelling to Hobart, and expect to have Sam Billings – who is isolating until he gets the result of his second PCR test – with them. It is a shame he cannot join them for a quiet beer tonight.

Where are you? Let’s be having you!

Sure, it’s a dead rubber. Sure, there’s a global pandemic, with thousands isolating in Sydney and many more wary of testing positive. And sure, England have stunk the place out all summer. But a crowd of 11,660 for a Sunday finish did feel a little light given the price (just a donation to the McGrath Foundation), not to mention what was at stake and the drama that unfolded. Luckily, they made a lot of noise.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Root cause

Extremely on brand for workaholic Joe Root: he got out in the afternoon session, in frustrating fashion to Scott Boland again. Not long after, he was in the nets working against the pink ball in preparation for the day-nighter in Hobart.

Winning the race

A little entertainment during a lunch break extended by rain. Broadcasters Fox organised a foot race from the boundary to the middle between the two young groundsmen who have been dashing on and off the field with the covers all week. A false start led to a head start for one competitor – the underdog – and he waltzed home with ease.

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