Andrew Gale: Jonny Bairstow’s brilliant knock proves just how much he has matured

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his double century against Hampshire earlier this week. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his double century against Hampshire earlier this week. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

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JONNY BAIRSTOW has just picked up from where he left off in Cape Town with England and at the back end of last season with Yorkshire – getting a double hundred in this week’s County Championship opener with Hampshire at Headingley.

He is in exceptional form and that knock was something different. He just looks like he is playing a different game to the rest of us. It could only be good for us while he is around, but fantastic for England as well if he hits those Test matches in the form that he is in now.

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow, right, celebrates his double century as he and Liam Plunkett walk off for the lunch interval on day two against Hampshire. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow, right, celebrates his double century as he and Liam Plunkett walk off for the lunch interval on day two against Hampshire. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

He has matured a lot as a player over the last few years and knows his game inside out now. He works hard in the nets; he’s always had the talent, but now he knows how to make big scores and over the past few years, he has got that selfishness and grittiness to make match-winning contributions like double-hundreds.

Adam Lyth and Liam Plunkett also got centuries, which was good.

At the back end of last season, Lythy wasn’t himself and was struggling a bit and needed some time away and that is what he has done, although he still has ambitions to play for England again.

No-one has really secured that opening spot for England and if Lythy can just cash in early season with sheer weight on runs, who knows what can happen..

He works hard in the nets, he’s always had the talent, but now he knows how to make big scores

Yorkshire CCC captain, Andrew Gale

Liam is a guy in good spirits at the moment. He wasn’t expected to go to the (T20) World Cup and got a late call-up and played most of the tournament. He’s on cloud nine at the minute and playing some good, positive cricket.

Overall, given the first two days of our four-dayer with Hampshire, we were probably disappointed not to get over the line with a win after being in such a commanding position.

But we probably were not quite at our best on days three and four with our bowling. We bowled pretty well, but didn’t bowl exceptionally. On a pitch that was really flat, we needed to bowl really, really well to take wickets and we were a bit sloppy and slack on the last day with our batting too.

It was a reminder that you can’t afford to do that in the first division because it is such a powerful division,

Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow formed a strong partnership for Yorkshire on day one against Hampshire at Headingley. 
 Picture: Tony Johnson

Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow formed a strong partnership for Yorkshire on day one against Hampshire at Headingley. Picture: Tony Johnson

As for the pitch, it wasn’t ‘flat, flat’. It was still a good pitch and overhead conditions played a big part and in the first two days it was cloudy and overcast and in the last two days, the sun was out and the pitch flattened.

It was still a pretty decent pitch and you had to work hard to get in and when you got in, you could really cash in. Credit goes to Hampshire for digging in.

Personally, I was happy with my knock of 46 in the second innings, especially coming in at a time when we were under a little bit of pressure and me and Jack Leaning just took the sting out of it because it could have been a very tricky position if we’d lost a couple more wickets on top of that. We could have been hanging on for a draw really.

So I was pleased with my contribution after being a little bit unlucky to get out in the first innings and I felt like I spent some valuable time at the crease. We now start a four-dayer at Warwickshire tomorrow and we know that everyone is going to raise their game against us now and that showed against Hampshire.

Warwickshire are tough opponents and have got some high-quality players and they were tipped at the start of the season to be right up there.

Maybe what happened on the last day against Hampshire was the kick up the backside we needed and hopefully we can now go into the Warwickshire game and play some consistent cricket over the four days.

Ian Bell is now back in the Warwickshire ranks and he’s a world-class performer, no doubt about that. He got heavy runs against us for the MCC in the UAE and looked in good form and we are going to have to get him out early because if he gets in, he’s got that selfishness and hunger for runs to make a big, big score.

Away from the first team, I am also busy with my benefit year at Yorkshire and it is all going well to date.

Most of the events are pretty much sold out and we have got a gala dinner in June and a cycle ride which starts and finishes at Ilkley at the back end of September.

There’s plenty of events in the diary and it is a weight off my mind going into the season that everything is really done and organised, so I can just concentrate on my cricket.

I am backing three fantastic charities as well, with Yorkshire Children’s Trust being the main one. So it will good to get some money and exposure for them.

Due to weather delays, the local league cricket season starts for most today and the leagues in Yorkshire have really been revolutionised with four ECB leagues now across the county.

It will be exciting for everyone and teams are playing for a place in the UAE and I am sure there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation around the start of the season. There’s been some good weather over the few days, so hopefully they can get some cricket in.

Jaap Stam.

Leeds United on Twitter: Jaap Stam close to tears and Amadou Haidara