With the English cricket season having drawn to a close, we pick out five English players of the summer, from across formats and across domestic and international cricket.
Jonny BairstowThere were signs in early 2022 that something special would come from the bat of Jonny Bairstow. Having gone three calendar years without reaching 60, centuries in consecutive Test appearances in Australia and the West Indies suggested a player returning to his best. But there was little to prepare anyone for what was to come, as Bairstow hit four of the finest Test hundreds and England batter has ever produced in the space of five innings.
First at Trent Bridge, in the second LV= Insurance Test Match against New Zealand. England had been 96-4 chasing 299, and came out for the final session still needing 160 to win. “Don’t hit the ball down,” was Ben Stokes simple advice to Bairstow, who, fuelled by a cup of coffee and a ham and cheese toastie, proceeded to smash the second-fastest Test hundred by an Englishman. In the blink of an eye, the game was done.
Cut to Headingley, and England’s gung-ho approach seems finally to have hit a speed bump, an inspired Trent Boult reducing them to 55-6. Bairstow is joined in the middle by Jamie Overton on debut, and the two have some fun, Bairstow making another century at better than a run a ball. In the chase, a pause for breath, and a mere 44-ball 71* as England gun down 296.
Then it’s India at Edgbaston, completing last year’s LV= Insurance Test Series. Again, England are seemingly out of it, 83-5 in response to 416. Something someone says fires Bairstow up, and he creams another hundred to just about keep England in touch. Still, England are left needing a national record chase of 378. So, of course, Bairstow tons up again as the target is reached with an almost embarrassing ease before the second new ball is available. The only thing that could stop him, it turned out, was a slick grass slope, a freak slip while golfing breaking his leg in three places. He will be back.