JONNY BAIRSTOW rapped out 174 reasons why he should be in England’s Champions Trophy team by making the highest individual score in a one-day match at Headingley.
Bairstow, who eclipsed David Boon’s 172 for the Australians against Yorkshire in 1989, is by no means a guaranteed starter in the competition that begins on June 1.
But it would be a brave – or quite possibly foolish – selection panel that kept this remarkable talent waiting in the wings.
On this evidence, room simply must be found for the 27-year-old in Eoin Morgan’s team.
Bairstow, whose career-best innings was the third-highest for Yorkshire in one-day cricket, as the hosts scored 339-4 to complete their highest successful chase in the format, will hope for another chance to press his England claims in the next few days.
Straight after Wednesday’s match, which ended at 6.00pm after Yorkshire won by six wickets with 14 balls to spare, he travelled to Bristol along with international team-mates Joe Root and Adil Rashid to prepare for the first of two one-day internationals against Ireland on Friday.
Whether Bairstow plays in that game, or in Sunday’s second match at Lord’s, remains to be seen, with England possessing a wealth of one-day talent.
But with England also playing three one-day internationals against South Africa before the Champions Trophy, there may yet be time for him to force his way in.
“I’ve just got to try and take every chance I get,” said Bairstow, who struck seven sixes and 16 fours during a 113-ball innings that left only Darren Lehmann (191) and Travis Head (175) above him in Yorkshire’s hall of fame.
“Hopefully, I’ll get a chance (with England), but competition for places is obviously very high.
Hopefully, I’ll get a chance (with England), but competition for places is obviously very high. I feel in good touch, but I’ve still got plenty of work to do.Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow
“I feel in good touch, but I’ve still got plenty of work to do.”
Ironically, the word at Headingley on Wednesday was that had England got their way, Bairstow would not have played in this match.
England had already withdrawn David Willey and Liam Plunkett from the Yorkshire team, deciding at the 11th hour that they did not want their pace bowlers to play ahead of practice in Bristol on Thursday, and, in an ideal world, they would have withdrawn Bairstow, Root and Rashid as well. That would have been too much, however, with Yorkshire having initially been told that all five England men could play.
Thanks to Bairstow’s brilliance, at least the 2,600 crowd were able to take away some lasting memories.
With Willey and Plunkett missing as Yorkshire sought to make it three wins out of three in the 50-over cup, they recalled the experienced Steve Patterson and rookie seam-bowling all-rounder Matthew Waite.
Although Patterson was uncharacteristically profligate, going at more than eight an over as Durham scored 335-5, their fourth-highest one-day total, the 21-year-old Waite was Yorkshire’s best and most economical performer.
Waite it was who broke an opening stand of 124 between Stephen Cook and Keaton Jennings after Durham chose to bat in glorious sunshine, Jennings lofting him out to deep mid-wicket where Peter Handscomb palmed the ball up as his momentum carried him over the rope before completing the catch as he re-entered the playing area.
Jennings fired two sixes and eight fours on his way to 72 from 64 balls as Yorkshire struggled to recapture the accuracy and penetration they displayed in their wins over Notts and Lancashire.
A second stand of 124 followed, this time between Cook and Michael Richardson, before Cook departed for the top-score of 106.
The South African skied the spin of Azeem Rafiq to mid-off after striking six fours in a 114-ball innings.
Waite claimed his second victim when Graham Clark clipped to mid-wicket before Rafiq had Paul Collingwood stumped.
After Rashid had Paul Coughlin taken at long-on, Richardson completed his first one-day hundred from the final ball of the innings as Yorkshire conceded their fifth-highest one-day score.
During the interval, Steve Denison, the Yorkshire chairman, tweeted: “It’s a big ask but if anyone can knock off 336 to win it’s this @yorkshireccc team.”
The club’s previous highest one-day run-chase was 330-6 to beat Surrey at the Oval in 2009, but the signs were immediately encouraging as openers Bairstow and Adam Lyth added 60 inside nine overs.
Lyth pulled Chris Rushworth to deep mid-wicket but Bairstow kept finding – and clearing – the rope. All of his sixes were sent leg-side, and there were any number of imperious drives and improvised strokes.
Bairstow, who had one life when Cook spilled him on 71 at long-off off George Harding, reached his hundred from 70 balls before finally edging James Weighell to the wicketkeeper. He added 189 in 26 overs with Root, who scored 55 from 70 balls before being bowled by Weighell, who also induced Gary Ballance to hit his own wicket.
Handscomb rounded things off with an unbeaten 47 as Yorkshire recorded the second-highest one-day score at Headingley behind their own 345-5 against Notts 21 years ago.