India vs England: Jonny Bairstow braced for emotional week as he hits major milestone

Milestone: Jonny Bairstow will become just the 17th England player to reach a century of Test appearances (Getty Images)
Milestone: Jonny Bairstow will become just the 17th England player to reach a century of Test appearances (Getty Images)

Jonny Bairstow says the tissues will be at the ready as he prepares to win an “emotional” 100th Test cap this week.

Bairstow will become the 17th Englishman to reach the landmark when the fifth and final Test against India gets underway at Dharamshala on Thursday.

Leading 3-1, the hosts have already wrapped up the series, but England are looking to give the scoreline a more flattering tint after competitive showings in two of their three defeats, while also setting out to mark Bairstow’s achievement in style.

“It would be nice,” said Bairstow. “No matter what it is, I’ll be going out there, chewing my gum, puffing my chest out and trying to have a good time with the other 10 blokes out there.

“Whatever the situation is, we'll be going out there with smiles on our faces, like we have done in the whole series.”

Bairstow made his debut against the West Indies in 2012, but the dozen years since have been far from plain sailing.

The Yorkshireman has missed 51 Tests through either injury or omission during that time, and when picked has been asked to fill various roles up and down the order, as well as alternate between keeping wicket and playing as a specialist batter.

He has, however, been at the heart of some of England’s most famous wins over the past decade, and in the summer of 2022 launched the Bazball era with a run of four centuries in five innings.

“It means a hell of a lot,” the 34-year-old said of his upcoming milestone. “Every young kid that sets out on a journey playing professional cricket wants to try to play 100 Test matches.

“You look back to 2012 when I made my debut at Lord’s, if 12 years later you’d said I’d be playing 100 Test matches, you’d snap your hand off for one but also pinch yourself as well.

“It will be an emotional week. I’m proud, you know what I’m like, an emotional guy, so, yeah, get the tissues ready.”

With Ben Foakes preferred behind the stumps in the subcontinent, Bairstow has endured a quiet series, yet to pass 40 in eight innings.

In the aftermath of last month’s Fourth Test defeat in Ranchi, however, head coach Brendon McCullum immediately dismissed the idea that Bairstow could be dropped for the series finale, although with Harry Brook to come back into the middle-order, his place heading towards the home summer is once again in doubt.

Having overcome a career-threatening leg injury to return for last summer’s Ashes, however, Bairstow sees such obstacles as part and parcel of the job.

“Throughout the whole journey, there will be challenges,” he said. “It’s not about the amount of times you get put down, it’s about the amount of times you get back up. People can never say I’ve never given it my all.”