Jonny Bairstow hopes to carry his stunning Royal London Series form into this winter’s Ashes.
England’s Test wicketkeeper appears to have finally secured a regular role in the one-day side after bagging his second hundred of the series in a nine-wicket romp that completed a 4-0 clean sweep over the West Indies.
The 28-year-old Yorkshireman made his ODI debut in 2011, but had just 28 format caps before this series and was used in a variety of positions.
However, he looks to have secured an extended run at the top of the order after thrashing an unbeaten 141 from 114 balls at the Ageas Bowl.
“I’m pretty pleased,” Bairstow said. “It’s nice to finish a pretty long summer with some runs and head away this winter with a bit of confidence.”
Asked whether the innings was better than the 100 not out he made at Old Trafford at the start of the series, Bairstow added: “Your first one is obviously so important, it’s something that you wait a long time to get and when it comes around you want to try and capitalise on it and go from there.”
Bairstow hopes his stop-start beginnings in ODI cricket are now a thing of the past as he prepares to rest ahead of the Test series in Australia.
“I think that’s the nature of sport,” he said. “If selection doesn’t go your way you’ve got to bide your time and if you get your opportunity try and take it.
“I’m happy that Morgs (Eoin Morgan) and everyone has selected me this series and hopefully I’ve done them proud.”
England limited the tourists to 288-6 despite Shai Hope’s 72 from No 3 and then – underpinned by Bairstow’s 90-ball century, and 96 from his opening partner Jason Roy – chased with unerring ease and 12 overs to spare.
A second successive century opening stand put them on track, Roy narrowly missing his hundred for the second time in three days since returning in place of Hales and Bairstow (141no ) then completing the job with England’s highest individual score against the West Indies.
After Roy went within one more boundary of three figures, lbw when he missed a full ball from Miguel Cummins after 11 fours and a six from just 70 balls, Bairstow was joined by Joe Root in another untroubled and, this time, unbroken three-figure stand. England’s Test wicketkeeper has therefore made an admirable start to his new vocation as 50-over opener, having hit his second hundred already in only five innings so far.
His opposite number Chris Gayle had earlier taken 15 balls to register his first run, a single to cover off Jake Ball, after the West Indies were put in following a start delayed because of morning rain.
But the ‘Universe Boss’ then briefly launched a remarkable sequence of hitting off the same bowler, registering 6-6-6-6-4-6 from successive deliveries spread over two overs.
England needed to get him quickly, and Tom Curran and Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett had the answer with a brilliantly-disguised back-of-the-hand slower ball from the debutant and then an athletic pressure catch, running and diving back from mid-off.
Plunkett doubled up with another outstanding catch, this time off his own bowling, as he got down low to hold a Kyle Hope straight-drive with his left hand.
A curiously unproductive partnership followed between Shai Hope and Marlon Samuels in which they managed a solitary boundary between them from 122 deliveries.
There was no pay-off from Samuels either, stumped on the charge at Moeen Ali.
But Hope cashed in on two lives, dropped on 32 and 61 by Morgan and then Root.
He finally hit his first four from his 78th ball and duly made it three in three – all to fine-leg off Curran, the second taking him past 50 – before eventually holing out on the cover boundary off Ball.
West Indies still had the resources to bag 115 runs in the last 12 overs to post a credible but far from daunting target – and one which proved well within England’s capabilities as they routinely chalked up a 16th win in their last 17 ODIs against these opponents.