Skip to content

Johnnie Bairstow

A breath of fresh air

For some unknown reason, I had never had the chance to watch Johnnie Bairstow bat for any length of time on TV - until the first innings against Sri Lanka at Headingley. Wow! What an eye opener. What a throw back to the past. What a pleasure to watch. What a key to much thrilling batting in the future.

What hit me straightaway was how still he was and how late he moved to the ball. Then came a sideways view showing him to be getting well out of his crease to narrow the angles - a highly positive move in itself.

For all the huge success of Smith and de Villiers and Amla, all shuffling across the crease before the ball is bowled, there was a simplicity about Bairstow’s style which had me thinking of Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Sangakara, Sehwag and even back to Jack Hobbs.

Of course, the most pronounced “keep still and move late” example was Gary Sobers. There is slow motion film of him playing Denis Lillee in his pomp, at Melbourne when he made 200. As Lillee gathers himself to bowl, Gary makes just one tap of his bat on the ground, NOW HE IS SETTLED, ABSOLUTELY STILL.

Whoosh! Over comes the arm and the ball is launched at perhaps 85 miles per hour. At half way down the pitch there is still not a twitch of movement from Gary. At last the left foot moves across to the line of the ball and the bat is picked up.

And what a pick-up. The toe of the bat is pointing vertically upward and the ball looks certain to scatter his stumps - until the last split second, when it comes down, absolutely perpendicular, to defend or, more often than not, to send it skimming to the boundary.

I am left wondering whether Bairstow's current skill is recently acquired or has just been a matter of growing confidence.

Thinking back to the days when there was no Video evidence, it was common practice in the nets, to run up to bowl and hang on to the ball. It is often a real eye-opener to the batsman who may be making all sorts of unnecessary moves. I certainly recommend the idea to school coaches.

There is ample evidence that an “out of form” batsman, anxious to get bat to ball, is usually guilty of moving too early. In fact you can actually practise keeping still as long as possible. It is amazing that you are very seldom “late” on the ball. Keep it up Johnnie B. There are not many of your kind about.


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
To leave a comment you must approve it via e-mail, which will be sent to your address after submission.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options