Bairstow celebrated an unbeaten 106 against a CWI President’s XI in Antigua, raising his bat just before the tea interval and ushering in a declaration at 466-6.
Back in January at the SCG he was responsible for the only English century of a torrid Ashes campaign, but also sustained a fractured thumb that ruled him out of the abject finale in Hobart.
Pain-free and slotting back in at number six at the Coolidge Cricket Ground he imposed himself on a weary home attack as they laboured on a pitch that had long since gone to sleep. He piled up 13 boundaries and a six in two dominant sessions to underline his status as a vital cog in this revamped batting line-up.
Resuming on four not out overnight, Bairstow became the fifth player to pass fifty following Zak Crawley (62), Alex Lees (65), Joe Root (54) and Dan Lawrence (83). Chris Woakes would surely have followed suit on his 33rd birthday but was left high and dry on 49 when Root called his side in.
That left a full session for England’s bowlers to show there is life after James Anderson and Stuart Broad – both controversially overlooked for this trip – but the seam attack found little joy in the surface.
The local side reached 48-2, the initial breakthrough coming when Craig Overton ran out a hesitant Jeremy Solozano off his own bowling before Jack Leach spun one through Shayne Moseley’s booming drive.
Woakes and Ollie Robinson took new-ball duties, just as they did back in the Ashes opener at the Gabba in December when Anderson and Broad were not deemed fit, but were unable to create any real mischief.
They shared 14 overs but managed no more than a late shout for caught behind off Robinson. Root would have liked to call on some extra pace but with Mark Wood off the field and Ben Stokes so far only bowling in the session breaks, he was unable to move the dial.
England suggested Wood was merely resting, taking his turn out in what is a 12-a-side contest, and there has been no mention of an injury to the quick.
Bairstow began the day with four to his name, initially allowing Lawrence to take the lead. The Essex player was an unused squad member throughout the Ashes, unable to crack the side despite a series of dreadful batting collapses in Australia, but will see this month’s three-match series as a chance to lock down his place in the middle order.
Lawrence admits he was frustrated not to get a chance to help England’s faltering batting in the Ashes but is ready to make up for lost time in the West Indies.
Despite repeated failures to post competitive totals in the 4-0 thrashing Down Under, Lawrence was restricted to net duty and ferrying drinks for the entire trip.
His selection ahead of Ollie Pope for the warm-up match against a CWI President’s XI suggested he will get the nod for next week’s opener and his lively knock of 83 on a sleepy pitch effectively sealed the deal.
“That was my first competitive bat since the end of the English summer so it was just nice to spend a couple of hours at the crease,” said Lawrence.
“It was a nice feeling to score some runs. I’d obviously love to play in the first Test, that’s my priority. It was a bit of a frustrating time for me in Australia not playing but that’s life.
“It’s obviously not been easy, it was tricky not being able to try and help the boys when they were having a pretty tough time. But it happens, I can’t just expect to play. I’m trying to just prepare myself for when the opportunity does come.”
Over his previous eight appearances for England, in which he averages a modest 27.23, he has been selected twice as a number five, twice as a number three, once down at seven and three more times at number six.
“I’ve batted a few different places for England so far, but for Essex the last three or four years I’ve batted number four and felt pretty comfortable there. It’s a place I enjoy batting,” he said.
“I haven’t actually had the conversation about what the team is going to be yet but it if I do get the chance to play and bat number four I’m very excited for that.
“I feel like at times I haven’t showed everyone what I can actually do. I think when I actually get in I generally do alright, it’s just starting sometimes for me. But I’m feeling very positive and I’m just trying to enjoy every day I’m playing for England and not put too much pressure on myself.
“It hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go so far in my career but hopefully it can change. If I do get a chance, grab it with both hands and really establish myself in the middle order for England.”
Tammy Beaumont feels England have been overlooked despite going into the Women’s World Cup as reigning champions.
England were unable to win any of their matches in the multi-format Ashes ahead of the defence of their 50-over crown.
“I feel a lot of people have written us off,” she said. “Last time people were trying to call us favourites. We are still the holders of the World Cup and you write us off at your peril.”