“I’m running out of superlatives,” says Jonny Bairstow after Joe Root’s exploits

“I’m running out of superlatives,” says Jonny Bairstow after Joe Root’s exploits

As Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root walked out of the lodge on Saturday morning to a warm, sunny welcome from a crowd of Lords, they took a moment to count their blessings. “Joe and I were like, ‘Is it good to go out on a Saturday to Lord’s with your best friend?’ “” Bairstow recalls on Matchday 3. “Having a full crowd, with our family and friends here, was really special. The Lord’s buzz was definitely back.

The England buzz was also back, at least for now. They started the day with a mountain to climb, but ended it with a slim lead of 27 thanks in large part to Bairstow’s 57 and Root’s undefeated gargantuan 180 – the English captain’s fifth century in seven months, and that which took him past Graham Gooch to second in England’s all-time test scorers list. Only Alastair Cook now stands in his way.

“To be honest I have no more superlatives,” Bairstow said of his Yorkshire teammate. “Seeing him in the form he is, playing the way he is, it’s great. After battling with each for many years, you get a gauge of each other’s temperament. You bounce off each other and we enjoyed every moment. It was about having fun, taking up the challenge, playing with a smile. We scored almost 400 today, and you can see the way we go about it, smiling and laughing, keeping that relaxed but focused attitude.

Bairstow’s solid form on his return to the Tests side was one of the most encouraging elements of the series, although he was disappointed to succumb to India’s shortball trap two overs ahead of the second news. ball, pulling a glove to slip. “Today’s game went through several different periods,” he said. “This morning the ball was a little higher, then the pace slowed down as the ball got softer, and it was harder to rotate the strike limits and score.

“I would have liked to continue, but it was one of those things. The pitch is slightly at two paces, a few are flying up to the keeper and a few are dying. When trying to dodge and weave it can get tricky. He took the glove today; another day it might go over the drawstring, or you might get a bottom edge for one. But if they’re short, it means you’re doing something right with your defense.

Despite all of England’s dominance in Matchday 2 and 3, bringing India down from 267 to two at the end of the day, the game remains desperately set for Sunday, and it is telling that Bairstow was not yet ready to place. England among the favorites. “Let’s see how tomorrow goes,” he said. “We have a new ball, and it was tough and tough when they got their second new ball, so we’ll come shoot tomorrow. We have guys who can challenge them in any way they can. It will be a really tough day.


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