Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow hopes to become a key component of England’s one-day side after scoring a match-winning century in a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over the West Indies in the Royal London Series opener at Old Trafford.
Bairstow hit exactly 100 not out to ensure a routine win with more than 11 overs to spare in pursuit of just 204-9 as England consigned their opponents to the prospect of a 2019 World Cup qualifying tournament early next year.
In a match reduced to 42 overs per side because of a wet outfield, the Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman hit a maiden format ton at the top of the order after being given the nod ahead of Jason Roy.
Bairstow was playing only his 28th ODI since making his debut six years ago, and now hopes to become a permanent fixture in Eoin Morgan’s side.
“It seems a long time ago that I made my debut in one-day cricket and there’s been ups and downs along the way,” Bairstow said. “When you get a chance you try and come in and you try and take your chance.
“At the same time, with the strength in depth we’ve got within the England side at the moment, that’s been so settled for over a year now, the opportunities are few and far between so when you get one it’s so important that you do try and take it.
“That’s why we’ve gone on from scoring 200-250 to scoring 350-400.”
Morgan was quick to praise Bairstow, although he also paid tribute to England’s bowling attack after they restricted an explosive West Indies line-up to a sub-par total.
“I thought the bowling unit in general put in a really good benchmark for the start of the series,” Morgan said.
“It’s very encouraging to start the series like this.”
On 27-year-old Bairstow’s 97-ball knock, he added: “Being there at the end really epitomises how hungry he is and how much he wants to be a part of the playing XI. I thought he was really outstanding.
“It’s a great way for him to begin the series.”
West Indies captain Jason Holder admits there is plenty of work for his side to do before the second game of the five-match series at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
“We were probably about 30-40 runs (short),” he said. “Having said that I still thought we had a score on the board and we didn’t bowl as well as I thought we should.
“If you’re not getting boundaries you need to rotate the strike... it’s been an area of concern for us for a while now.
“We should have given a better account of ourselves with the ball.
“The series is not over, we need to pick ourselves up.”
The West Indies had enjoyed a flying start from the returning Chris Gayle, but faltered to fine bowling from Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes (3-43).
Gayle launched a rush of early sixes in an opening stand of 45.
But once he went in the ninth over, wickets kept falling in pairs to continually check momentum on a pitch of decent pace, and a late hand from Holder could not rescue a par total.
In reply England lost Alex Hales to an aerial cut at Jerome Taylor in the fifth over, but Bairstow made no mistake as he and Joe Root (54) put together an all-Yorkshire stand of 125 for the second wicket, which ended only when the latter chopped on to Kesrick Williams.
Morgan continued his lack of recent runs when he went caught-behind to Williams, but England remained well ahead of the game.
There was relatively little pressure throughout, but Bairstow nonetheless served up some superlative shots among 11 boundaries in his chanceless 97-ball century and the reliable Root was no slouch either as he passed his 50 from only 49 deliveries.