Jonny Bairstow tipped to thrive off controversy in front of Headingley crowd

By Sports Desk July 04, 2023

Joe Root is confident Jonny Bairstow “has the bit between his teeth” following his controversial stumping at Lord’s and expects him to be in the mood in front of a home crowd at Headingley this week.

Bairstow found himself at the eye of the storm during England’s unsuccessful run chase on Sunday, dismissed by fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey after he believed the ball to be dead at the end of a Cameron Green over.

The incident sparked furious scenes at the home of cricket, with boos raining down on the tourists and three MCC members suspended for abusing Australia as they passed through the Long Room, and the row has barely died down since.

The furore has even broken into the political discourse, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese trading very different interpretations on the matter.

But there has been no word yet from the man England believe is the wronged party and he could be waiting to make it with bat in hand.

Bairstow has a long history of turning in memorable innings when he has had a point to prove – to pundits, selectors or opponents – and Root believes his fellow Yorkshireman is ready to produce another big performance.

“Jonny does thrive off things like this. You can bet your bottom dollar he will have the bit between his teeth,” he said.

“I don’t think he took it great, but I don’t think anyone would, would they? From his perspective he was not gaining any advantage. So, yeah, he felt a bit hard done by.

“I think it is set up nicely for him. He’s playing at his home ground and I’m sure he will want to entertain the local crowd. You’ll be able to spot it a mile off.

“You want to be watching every ball this week. There is always something in these big series and this is it, I guess. And it would have to involve Jonny.”

There have been countless instances of Bairstow taking his grievances out on opposition bowlers, including during the 2019 World Cup when he responded to a Twitter spat with Michael Vaughan by reeling off back-to-back hundreds that powered England to the final.

But Root most readily recalls last summer’s record fourth-innings chase of 378 against India, when he and his Yorkshire team-mate both hit unbeaten centuries following some needle in the middle.

“He’s done it previously. Go back to Edgbaston last year, someone said something to him – I think it was Virat Kohli – and brought the best out of him,” he said.

“Let’s hope it happens again.”

Root knows all about leadership in the heat of Ashes cricket, having overseen three campaigns against the old enemy during his five-and-a-half years in charge. He echoed the post-match verdict of his successor, Ben Stokes, confirming he would have withdrawn the appeal in matching circumstances.

And while Stokes invited Australia to think about “the spirit of cricket”, Root warned that the moment may harm their future standing in the game.

“As a team, we want to play our cricket in a certain way and leave a certain legacy,” he said.

“If I try to put myself in that situation, I think I would have dealt with it very differently. I care about England cricket and this team and what we’re about as a team. We all know how we want to play our cricket and we’ll continue to do it that way.

“There’s always going to be respect there. You’re allowed to disagree on certain things and see the game differently and clearly that is the case on this topic.”

Yorkshire have said they will be paying particular attention to security arrangements for the match following the angry scenes at Lord’s, working alongside the England and Wales Cricket Board and West Yorkshire Police, and while the famously lively atmosphere in the Western Terrace is likely to be in evidence, Root called for supporters to stay on the right side of the line.

“Support England, that’s the most important thing. You come to support your nations and it doesn’t need to go beyond that,” he said.

“It should never go beyond that. Everyone should be here to enjoy the cricket on the field. It shouldn’t be about anything other than that. Come here and support your team to the best of your ability, we’ll play to the best of ours.”

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