England’s Jonny Bairstow says playing T20 cricket in the Indian Premier League gave him the tools he needed to launch his astonishing demolition of New Zealand in the second Test.
The Yorkshireman powered England to a five-wicket victory at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, smashing 136 not out from just 92 balls, including 14 fours and seven sixes.
In a sustained assault that was reminiscent of a T20 match, Bairstow’s 77-ball century – the second-fastest Test hundred for England – enabled Ben Stokes’s side to race to their target of 299 in just 50 overs.
Bairstow, 32, said arriving for the Test series hot on the heels of his spell with the IPL’s Punjab Kings helped him put New Zealand to the sword.
“There was a lot of people that were saying I should not be at the IPL and I should be playing county cricket,” he said.
“Yes, people say it would be fantastic if you had four games of red-ball (first-class) cricket under your belt (before a Test series) but, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen with the current scheduling of everything around the world.
“There are elements to it where you are playing against the best in the world at the IPL. Being able to have those gears, to be able to go and switch them up, switch them down, is important.”
Bairstow’s Test career was in the balance when he went the whole of 2020 without a single five-day appearance despite remaining an important member of the limited overs set-up.
But he has silenced his critics in recent months, scoring hundreds in Australia and the West Indies before Tuesday’s blaze of glory.
“I’m hugely proud of the fact that sometimes when the chips are down, you have to stand up, when you can say backs are against a wall,” Bairstow said.
“That might be something that you’re born with, it might be something that you have deep down that springs out of you at those moments. But, for me as a cricketer, that’s something I’m very proud of.”
England’s victory over New Zealand in Nottingham gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series – their first series win since January 2021.
Bairstow is one of several players who appear to have responded well to the new regime under captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
“I’m extremely excited about what vision Ben and Brendon have, the way in which we’re able to go about our cricket, the enjoyment that everyone’s having on the field,” he said.