Jonny Bairstow has taken satisfaction from silencing his doubters after setting a new record for the most Test runs amassed in a calendar year by a wicketkeeper.
Bairstow set a new benchmark after overhauling the 1,045 runs accrued by Zimbabwe’s Andy Flower in 2000 over the weekend as England defeated Bangladesh in the first Test in Chittagong.
The 27-year-old has the opportunity to set a total that could prove insurmountable as England still have six Tests – one more against Bangladesh followed by a five-match series in India – to play before the end of the year.
Michael Vaughan holds the record for the most runs by an Englishman in a calendar year with 1,481 in 2002 but Bairstow is only 390 behind and could overhaul the Ashes 2005-winning captain.
It is quite a turnaround for Bairstow, who worried he had been written off as an international cricketer after being discarded by England for more than a year-and-a-half following the last Ashes series Down Under in early 2014.
Despite answering his critics in some style, Bairstow is not taking his place in the England line-up for granted. “It’s a special feeling, something I hadn’t really thought about at all but obviously towards the end of the summer people started talking about it. I’m absolutely delighted to now hold the record.
“You go back maybe two years and there are people writing you off to never play Test cricket again. To then come back and prove a few people wrong with the way that I’ve been playing...there were a few mumbles floating around that I wasn’t good enough.
“But, at the same time, there’s still a lot of cricket to play this year and, hopefully, I can carry on in the same vein with the bat and the gloves.”
Bairstow earned his place back in the England line-up last year, first as a batsman and then undertaking wicketkeeper duties later on, after a breathtaking 2015 season for Yorkshire.
With England facing seven Tests in the space of nine weeks, Bairstow is eager to be an ever-present. “Having missed out for 18 months after the Ashes and going away and working on my game and playing for Yorkshire and earning your place back, you want to play as many games as you can for England in every single format going.”
While Ben Stokes claimed the plaudits for inspiring a 22-run win over Bangladesh, Bairstow’s contribution should not be overlooked as he helped England overcome early trouble in both innings on a pitch offering plenty of turn.
Because of the challenging nature of the surface, Bairstow’s work with the gloves was also put to the test, but he was particularly tidy when standing up to the stumps and he believes it was his finest wicketkeeping performance for England.
He said: “I’ve only kept a few but I think it probably is. If I’m going unnoticed and keeping well that’s the best way forward for me, and I was very pleased to get some positive comments.”
England aim to sign off from Bangladesh with a momentum-building win in the second Test in Dhaka, which gets under way tomorrow, as they build towards a mammoth India series.
But the close nature of a see-saw first Test means Bairstow is keeping his focus firmly on the Tigers. “It would be a great confidence-booster, but at the same time look how close the last game was,” he said.
Slow left armer Zafar Ansari has been touted to make his Test debut at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in place of Adil Rashid or Gareth Batty.