JONNY BAIRSTOW believes the enforced time he had away from cricket through injury at the start of this season has contributed to his impressive recent form.
The England international has been among the runs over the past fortnight with a sublime unbeaten 161 against Sussex in the County Championship being followed this week by another half-century in the triumph over Warwickshire.
One-day cricket has also been to Bairstow’s liking with his 60 not out at Northamptonshire in the NatWest T20 Blast ranked among one of his best efforts with the white ball.
After having to sit out the opening few weeks of the season due to a broken finger, the 24-year-old, who came within one catch of matching his late father David’s club record of seven catches in an innings during the recent match at Arundel, is more than making up for lost time.
“The injury was slightly frustrating,” said Bairstow, who boasts a batting average of 132 in this season’s T20 due to having been unbeaten in three of his four innings.
“That is only natural. But it didn’t get on my nerves too much because I saw it as a period where I could freshen up and just get away from the cricket. The club was absolutely fantastic and didn’t say I had to be in every day. I was told to do my training, rest my finger and make sure it healed.”
Asked by The Yorkshire Post if this had contributed to the current upturn in form that sees Bairstow sit on top of the Yorkshire batting averages in both the Championship and T20, he replied: “Without a doubt.
“I think time doing other things is under-rated. I am sure everyone knows the schedule (of county cricket) so it helps actually having a couple of weeks where you are still going to training a few times a week but you are not there 8.30 until 6.30, straight back the next day for four days and then you get on a bus for a five-hour journey.
“I think having that little time away is under-rated.”
Bairstow was unlucky to lose his place as England’s Test match wicketkeeper to Matt Prior for the recent series against Sri Lanka having played in the last two Ashes Tests of the winter.
Any disappointment felt, however, has not affected his cricket since returning from injury and Yorkshire are most definitely reaping the benefit right now.
Tonight will see Bairstow and his team-mates look to complete a T20 double over Lancashire after a thrilling five-wicket win at Old Trafford three weeks ago.
The wicketkeeper hit a crucial 19 not out off 13 balls to get the Vikings over the line in an enthralling finale and then followed that with a fine knock of 60 not out from 37 balls in the Vikings’ last T20 game, the 16-run triumph over Northamptonshire a fortnight ago.
Bairstow added: “It is all about spending time in the middle. It is nice to be playing lots of games of cricket again, playing different formats and going back to the white ball game and seeing the ball and hitting the ball – that’s me.
“We were all really pleased with the win at Northants and I was very pleased with the way I played there.”
Yorkshire, fifth in the North Division but with games in hand on all those sides above them, are well placed to push for a place in the quarter-finals.
With Andrew Gale’s men also sitting joint top of the County Championship, 2014 may finally be the year when the White Rose finally blooms to bring some silverware to Headingley.
Not, however, that Bairstow and his team-mates are taking anything for granted.
He added: “We are not putting pressure on ourselves.
“It would be very nice to continue the work we have been doing in the championship and the T20.
“It is important we don’t go out there with complacency, that we move forward as a team and that we are playing the cricket we want to play.”