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Bairstow: Belligerent in the blue

 

He has all of that to his name and yet rarely do his exploits against the white-ball get spoken about in the reverence that they should. Instead, Bairstow always seems to be judged by his Test record. In the lead up to this series, he was asked by Sky Sports about his Test future, having been left out of England's squad for last month's series against West Indies and for next week's first Test against Pakistan. He was also asked about it numerous times in the post-match press conference today. He is going back to play four-day cricket for Yorkshire after this series and you can be sure that all eyes will be on him then too.

But Bairstow doesn't always have to be seen through the lens of his Test match exploits.

His 82 off 41 deliveries at the Ageas Bowl showcased, in particular, two of the standout qualities that make him such a formidable 50-over player. The first is his ability to punish - and really punish - any length. With some batsmen, a bowler might be able to defend on a certain length, knowing that the batter isn't as destructive there. England bowled back of a length to Ireland's opener Gareth Delaney in this game, for instance, having seen how he scored off anything full in the opening match of the series. He registered a 12-ball duck.

But Bairstow doesn't have any particular length where he struggles. Wherever the Irish bowlers went, he cracked on. When Craig Young bowled short, Bairstow pulled. When Young bowled a good length, he also pulled. When Josh Little (and Young) went full, he hit in an arc between cover and midwicket, on the ground or over the top.

Even balls which would normally be considered deliveries to respect, Bairstow hit for four. His 12th boundary was smashed on the up through mid-off off Little, the shot of the day against a ball which was worth a dot or a single. Another good length ball later was heaved into the leg-side. Against the spin of Andy McBrine, Bairstow used his feet to loft him straight.

He hit 14 boundaries and two sixes in all before Little dismissed him with a wide delivery which Bairstow will think he should have carved away for four rather than edging behind. Until that point, no length had been safe.

The second quality that Bairstow has is brutality. You wouldn't say he is a touch player in one-day cricket. Nor are some of his shots particularly classical. When he drives, the bat can turn in his hand. When he plays through the leg-side, it is sometimes more of a shovel than a caress. He's happy to simply plonk the ball over the infield early on and nor is he afraid of a good old fashioned heave every now and then. Sam Billings, who played a vital hand, is more attractive on the eye. So too James Vince and Tom Banton.

He has all of that to his name and yet rarely do his exploits against the white-ball get spoken about in the reverence that they should. Instead, Bairstow always seems to be judged by his Test record. In the lead up to this series, he was asked by Sky Sports about his Test future, having been left out of England's squad for last month's series against West Indies and for next week's first Test against Pakistan. He was also asked about it numerous times in the post-match press conference today. He is going back to play four-day cricket for Yorkshire after this series and you can be sure that all eyes will be on him then too.

But Bairstow doesn't always have to be seen through the lens of his Test match exploits.

His 82 off 41 deliveries at the Ageas Bowl showcased, in particular, two of the standout qualities that make him such a formidable 50-over player. The first is his ability to punish - and really punish - any length. With some batsmen, a bowler might be able to defend on a certain length, knowing that the batter isn't as destructive there. England bowled back of a length to Ireland's opener Gareth Delaney in this game, for instance, having seen how he scored off anything full in the opening match of the series. He registered a 12-ball duck.

But Bairstow doesn't have any particular length where he struggles. Wherever the Irish bowlers went, he cracked on. When Craig Young bowled short, Bairstow pulled. When Young bowled a good length, he also pulled. When Josh Little (and Young) went full, he hit in an arc between cover and midwicket, on the ground or over the top.

Even balls which would normally be considered deliveries to respect, Bairstow hit for four. His 12th boundary was smashed on the up through mid-off off Little, the shot of the day against a ball which was worth a dot or a single. Another good length ball later was heaved into the leg-side. Against the spin of Andy McBrine, Bairstow used his feet to loft him straight.

He hit 14 boundaries and two sixes in all before Little dismissed him with a wide delivery which Bairstow will think he should have carved away for four rather than edging behind. Until that point, no length had been safe.

The second quality that Bairstow has is brutality. You wouldn't say he is a touch player in one-day cricket. Nor are some of his shots particularly classical. When he drives, the bat can turn in his hand. When he plays through the leg-side, it is sometimes more of a shovel than a caress. He's happy to simply plonk the ball over the infield early on and nor is he afraid of a good old fashioned heave every now and then. Sam Billings, who played a vital hand, is more attractive on the eye. So too James Vince and Tom Banton.

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