Jonny Bairstow has become pretty adept at Test 50s and hundreds – and he is starting to eye a couple more as he embarks on one of the biggest series of his career to date.
If all goes well for England’s wicket-keeper over the next two months in Australia, he will win his 50th Test cap in the final Ashes match of five in Sydney.
November 13, 2017, 4:00pm
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Doubling that tally in due course would be some achievement and not one 28-year-old Bairstow is remotely tempted to take for granted.
He is, however, prepared at least to talk about the “dream” of reaching a century of Tests.
The onus will be on Bairstow more than ever in the forthcoming Ashes, in the anticipated continued absence of Ben Stokes.
England have become accustomed to Stokes and Bairstow providing a rare blend of counter-attacking solidity in their middle order, and they will need the Yorkshireman to keep delivering against Australia.
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Reflecting on his 45 Tests to date, and the prospect of making it 50 at the SCG, Bairstow said: “It seems to have gone blooming quick.
“If I reach that milestone it will be a special, special day. The family will be out – and it’s part of the journey, isn’t it?”
Bairstow’s ‘journey’ on the pitch has been a tough one at times – including an 18-month hiatus between his last Sydney Test in January 2014 and his return against the same opponents at Edgbaston in late July 2015.
“If you look too far ahead you can come unstuck,” he said. “Everyone wants to play 100 Tests and reach that milestone, and I hope it’s a stepping stone.
“It’s a dream to play 100 Tests, (but) I’m not saying that is what I’m going to do – because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Bairstow admits the absence of all-rounder Stokes is likely to weaken England this winter but thinks there is still enough collective talent to compensate.
“You take Ben out and yes, there’s a hole in the batting and the bowling, but at the same time you’ve still got a core group of all-rounders in there that can change games and score a lot of runs,” he added.
“It allows the balance of the side still to be there.”