Forget a whitewash – England need to win series

England's Jonny Bairstow.
England's Jonny Bairstow.
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JONNY BAIRSTOW has banished thoughts of whitewashing India as he insisted that England must first of all focus on winning the five-Test series.

England go into the third Test at Trent Bridge on Saturday 2-0 up after victories at Edgbaston and Lord’s.

It left captain Joe Root admitting that it “would be the dream to put in five complete performances and have five wins”.

But Root made clear that “it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant or look too far ahead”, comments very much echoed by his Yorkshire and England team-mate.

“There’s still three big Test matches to go,” said Bairstow. “You can’t say that it’s going to be that (5-0).

“Another week or two of hot weather, and all of a sudden the pitch, say, down in Southampton (for the fourth Test) changes. The pitch at the Oval (for the fifth Test) we know can get quite dry and turn, so there’s three-and-a-bit weeks until we finish the series and there’s a lot of cricket we’ve got ahead.

“I don’t think you can look at those kind of scorelines. We’re not even close to winning the series yet.”

Bairstow’s level-headed approach stems not only from a recognition of the capricious nature of sport, but also the fact that India are the world’s 
No 1-ranked team – one capable, despite their pummelling at headquarters, of fighting their way back.

Asked whether the tourists are vulnerable, the 28-year-old insisted: “I don’t think they’re vulnerable. I think they’re world No 1 for a reason. You’ve just got to look at the quality they’ve got in their side.

“I think we’ve exploited the conditions well and put the ball in the right areas and exposed a couple of areas that we looked to target before the series started.

“But there’s a lot of dangers that come with their top five or six batsmen, so we can’t just take our foot off the pedal.

“You look at Pujara, for instance. I think he’s got five triple hundreds in first-class cricket, 15 hundreds in Test cricket, and that’s only one bloke. You’ve got Kohli, Rohane, and everyone that comes around them as well.

“At the same time, we’ve played well and we’re 2-0 up against the No 1 team.

“I think the way we’ve gone about it has been the most pleasing thing, the way we’ve played our cricket.”

He added: “The conditions in the last Test match were quite kind to us, which helped naturally, like when you go to India and they win the toss and bat first and all of a sudden conditions are against you as a team, but it sometimes happens that way.”

Following a turbulent winter in which they lost in Australia and New Zealand, England have now won three Tests on the bounce.

It has been a stirring turnaround by Bairstow and co.

“It was a blooming tough winter,” he said.

“We came up against an Australian side that had three guys that were bowling at 90mph consistently that were at the top of their game and exploited our weaknesses.

“When you’ve got guys that are bowling consistently and as ferociously as they did, and cleaning up the tail like they did, it’s tough.

“That, combined with the fact that when they got a couple of men in they went massive and got a huge amount of runs, and the fact that there were a couple of decisions that didn’t necessarily go our way, it’s difficult.

“But, at the end of the day, they played better than us.

“Then, when we went to New Zealand, the spell from Trent Boult – sometimes you’ve just got to doff your cap, like you do to Broady (Stuart Broad) and Jimmy (James Anderson).

“Sometimes you’re on the end of a good spell and you can’t do much about it.

“Unfortunately, this winter, we were on the end of a few good spells and we weren’t able to combat that, but we’ve come back to England fresh, excited and raring to go for the challenges ahead.”

Jonny Bairstow was launching the Hardys Heartbeat of the Club. Nominate your club’s heartbeat at Hardyswines.com/winthehardyspavilion