Jonny Bairstow says England’s World Cup win is assured of its place in the history books regardless of what happens in the Ashes – but he is desperate to complete a golden summer in style.
It is a little more than two weeks since Yorkshire’s Bairstow played his part in one of the most dramatic finals in sport, one which drew more than eight million viewers as the national side’s return to free-to-air television ended in glory.
Bairstow would dearly love to have an unprecedented double on his cv but is confident that the positive impact of England’s tournament triumph will linger long after the five Tests against Australia are in the record books –win, lose or draw.
“I don’t think you can ever take the memories of the World Cup win away,” he said ahead of Thursday’s opening day at Edgbaston. “I don’t think that will be lost if we didn’t win the Ashes.
“You can never take the memories of celebrating in Trafalgar Square away from the people who were there, or the memories of people who were in the pub watching with their mates or those down at cricket clubs. There was a euphoria around the whole country.
We want to keep the momentum we’ve got going in what is the biggest summer of English cricket we’ve had and probably will have for a long, long time.Jonny Bairstow
“There have been other series since the 2005 Ashes but everyone remembers that fondly, there have been rugby World Cups since the win in 2003 but the impact of it wasn’t lost.
“So there will be a longer lasting effect of the World Cup win beyond this summer – but we want to win the Ashes as well.
“We want to keep the momentum we’ve got going in what is the biggest summer of English cricket we’ve had and probably will have for a long, long time.”
Bairstow was speaking at King’s Heath Cricket Club, where he took part in a Specsavers training session with partially sighted team Birmingham Vision. Hopes are high that participation levels will receive a shot in the arm on the back of England’s exploits and Bairstow is well aware how important that would be.
He continued: “It would have a great effect on every level of the game if we were able to pull it off, whether it be men’s, women’s, disability cricket or just people taking the game up for the first time.
“It’s great if we can have that kind of impact.”
Bairstow has already been back in his England whites since the World Cup concluded, declining the offer of a rest to line up in the rollercoaster Test win over Ireland.
While Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler did sit the game out, Bairstow insisted on getting back out on the field and resuming his red-ball wicketkeeping duties.
He was dismissed for a duck in both innings but a fine one-handed catch as the hosts pressed for victory in the second innings ensured it was not a wasted venture.
“I didn’t want to be going into the first Ashes Test having not kept – I wanted to get back keeping and (have) the rhythm of my keeping,” said the Yorkshireman.
“That was the main reason for playing in the Ireland game.
“(The pair) was my first time in 12 years so I’m absolutely not worried about that. Hopefully it’s another 12 years before the next and we’ll be all right.”
Ben Stokes, meanwhile, has revealed the pride he felt after being reinstated as England’s Test vice-captain.
Stokes was stripped of the role in 2017 following a late night brawl in Bristol but was restored as Joe Root’s deputy ahead of the Ashes opener.
The all-rounder has impressed with the maturity he has shown around the England camp since being cleared on a charge of affray, with his off-field influence matched by his inspirational efforts during the triumphant World Cup campaign.
Jos Buttler had been acting as Root’s right-hand man but was happy to pass the baton back after ECB director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles and chief executive Tom Harrison recommended Stokes’ restoration.
Speaking on a weekend visit to his old club, Cockermouth CC in Cumbria, the 28-year-old said: “I love having that responsibility and it is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing.
“I take pride in being vice-captain. Being part of that think-tank is pretty cool.
“I am very good friends with Joe as well, off the field, and as much as I can do to help him through his career, not just as a captain but as a player as well, I am really looking forward to that challenge.
“I think it would have been just as exciting anyway, playing in an Ashes series is always special and they don’t come around that often but being named vice-captain again was very good to hear when I got the call.”
Stokes missed the last series against the old enemy, stood down by the ECB following events in Bristol, and is more than happy to focus on the next challenge.
“Everything is sort of on the Ashes now,” he said.
“We have had that time to let everything sink in and reflect on that amazing seven weeks we have had in the World Cup, but the World Cup was half of the journey – the other half is winning the Ashes.”
“Everything has been focused on what we are going to do to beat the Australians.
“It is going to be a busy six weeks, five Test matches against Australia isn’t easy.”