Jonny Bairstow delivered another reminder of his brilliant limited-overs batting in England’s series-sealing victory over Ireland, but is not sure he can get into the first-choice Champions Trophy XI.
Ireland captain William Porterfield was among those wondering about Bairstow’s current bit-part status in a team soon to return to full capacity with the addition of Indian Premier League stars Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes.
It is hard to see how Bairstow can make a much more compelling case than with the unbeaten 72 from just 44 balls which propelled England to 328 for six, following half-centuries from captain Eoin Morgan (76) and Joe Root (73) in their stand of 140 at Lord’s.
Bairstow, who has also had to come to terms with losing the wicketkeeping gloves to Sam Billings in Buttler’s absence from this Royal London Series, took over in a blistering partnership of 88 in under eight overs with his fellow Yorkshireman Adil Rashid.
After England defended their total with ease to clinch a 2-0 success, despite an admirable 82 from Porterfield in Ireland’s 243 all out, Bairstow had plenty to smile about, including a good-natured jibe at his fellow Bradfordian Rashid.
“I’m pleased with way I’m striking the ball and moving at the crease, and the by-product is the runs you score,” he said.
“It’s always a pleasure batting with ‘Rash’, making him run. There was one he hit out to midwicket and said ‘one’ - and there was the easiest two ever.”
Rashid played his part in the stand which did most to put the match beyond Ireland, who nonetheless fared much better than at Bristol two days earlier.
“We’ve grown up together, and I thought he played outstandingly well,” Bairstow added.
“He’s a freak... I don’t think people understand how good a batter Adil is. He’s got some of the most ridiculous shots going.
“The time we batted, trying to lead on from what Joe (and Morgan) did, was a great job.”
As for his chances of forcing his way into the Champions Trophy team next month, he said: “I’d like to hope so. It’s something I’ve been targeting - I want to be a part of every England side going forward.
“We have a heck of a lot of talent in the group, but if I put in the performances then who knows? The rest is completely above me.”
Losing the gloves to Billings was nonetheless a tough blow to take.
“It’s something I’ve worked very hard on, and when I have kept in the ODIs I’d like to think I’ve done pretty well,” he said.
“It’s a case of taking the opportunity if it arises.”
Asked how the decision was conveyed to him last week, Bairstow said: “It was just ‘Sam’s keeping’.
“It was obviously desperately disappointing.
“But when selection is made... it is what it is, and that’s how you move forward.
“There are two ways of looking at it.
“When I was left out of the Test side, you either go back to Yorkshire and you hide or stand up and try and take it forward.”
Porterfield for one has no doubt Test wicketkeeper Bairstow will not let England down if he does play in the mini-World Cup.
He said: “I’d love to have their headaches! You’re looking at someone of his quality - and Stokes, Woakes, Buttler that are going to come into your first XI.
“It just shows the strength of English cricket. He’s been banging down the door, probably as consistent as anyone over the last 18 months, getting big runs across the formats.
“I’m sure, given the opportunity, he’ll do very well.”