Jonny Bairstow insists England will continue to be aggressive and hit maximums

Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent
·3-min read

Centurion Jonny Bairstow backed England to keep swinging for the fences after the tourists put India to the sword with 20 sixes in the second one-day international in Pune.

Bairstow cleared the ropes seven times en route to a brilliant 124, while Ben Stokes went all the way on 10 occasions before falling for a brutal 99.

With Jason Roy and debutant Liam Livingstone also showing off their range, it added up to a serious display of hitting power as England chased down a target of 337 with 39 balls and six wickets to spare.

While that high-risk strategy comes with no guarantees – England having lost the series opener by 66 runs despite scoring another 10 maximums – Bairstow suggested the option would always be attractive to a side that define themselves by their aggression.

“There hasn’t been any conversation saying ‘we must hit more sixes’, it’s just happening that way,” he said, having helped tee up a series decider on Sunday.

“But the way the game is going, be it 50-over cricket or T20 cricket, the team that hits the most boundaries generally wins the game. If you’re hitting them for six rather than four you are going to win even more.

Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow take a single
Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow smashed India to all parts (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

“We had hit 20 sixes, that’s an extraordinary number in one game. If we can keep hitting boundaries and putting bowlers under pressure, they know if they miss their length they could go for six.

“Executing won’t happen every single time and people will get out doing it but everyone in the dressing room is backing the person in the middle. If they want to hit the ball for six, they believe in everyone’s ability.”

Despite being in the thick of things for the majority of the chase, even Bairstow admitted to losing track of the scoreboard as it spun round during the decisive phase where Stokes moved from 50 to 99 in the space of just 11 deliveries.

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“I got told a couple of stats after the game and didn’t realise it was like that,” he said.

“We had 87 runs in five overs…if you’re able to put together those overs back to back you put yourself in a position to win the game more often than not. It was some good hitting, wasn’t it?

“The match up Ben decided to take down were the right match ups and he struck it beautifully. There is a method, I promise you. We’re not just playing shots and slogging.”

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For Jos Buttler, stand-in captain due to Eoin Morgan’s hand injury, the emphatic result was further vindication of the values which made England world champions in 2019 and have seen them sit atop the world rankings for the last three years. Having avoided the possibility of a 3-0 whitewash, that status is now safe.

“I’m delighted with the response of the guys. I’m delighted we committed to the fashion we want to play our cricket,” he said.

“Some people talked about our way and said ‘should we be smarter’. Of course we want to play smart at times but we always want to commit the brand of cricket we do play.”

England may have found life harder had Stokes been run out in casual manner for 31, a fate he was spared by a marginal third umpire call. With that incident safely in the rear-view mirror, Bairstow was happy to smile about it.

“I’m sure there was a bit of his GM (bat) behind the line,” he said.

“However, if he was out in that moment….my gosh he’d have been kicking himself. To potentially get run out like that while playing so well is interesting shall we say. I’m not sure I can name the exact words that would have been used.”