'The more pressure, the better' - Bairstow defends IPL call after supreme innings

By Sports Desk June 15, 2022

Jonny Bairstow admits he feels vindication in choosing the Indian Premier League over County Championship cricket after his match-winning performance for England against New Zealand.

The Yorkshireman's blitz of a century, with 136 runs off 92 balls, was the centrepiece in a superb five-wicket win for the hosts on the final day at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.

It marked Bairstow's ninth Test hundred and third in 2022, to hand the hosts a 2-0 series advantage with one match to go on his home ground of Headingley, starting June 23.

But having faced criticism for his decision to duck out on the start of the domestic season to play IPL, the 32-year-old acknowledged he feels his call remained the right pick.

"A lot of people were saying I shouldn't be at the IPL and I should be playing county cricket," Bairstow said. "But you are playing against the best in the world at the IPL.

"Being able to have those gears, to be able to switch them up and switch them down, is important. People say it would be fantastic if you had four games of red-ball cricket under your belt.

"Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in the current scheduling of everything and we're very fortunate to be able to play in some of the best competitions against the best players in the world.

"When it comes to pressure situations, the more you're able to put yourself under pressure, the better.

"Because it's those situations that you've gone through in the past, whether that be in the IPL, in one-day cricket or in red-ball cricket, that you're able to call upon on evenings like that.

"Those opportunities and environments, whether they be for good or bad, are the things that [mean] you're able to produce performances like we as a group have done in this game, in the last game, and hopefully will do going forward."

Bairstow further reinforced he remains a passionate devotee of the long-form version of the game, adding: "The amount of pride that it gives me to play Test cricket for England, first and foremost, is huge.

"I'm hugely proud of the fact that sometimes when the chips are down, you have to stand up.

"That might be something that you're born with, it might be something that you have deep down that springs out of you at those moments. But as a cricketer, that's something I'm very proud of."

England will hope they can wrap up a clean sweep in their three-Test series when they meet New Zealand again at Headingley next week.

Their visitors will be facing a nervy wait on Michael Bracewell, however, after the all-rounder tested positive for COVID-19, meaning he will require five days of isolation beforehand.

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