Sydney, Jan 7 (IANS) Former England captain and opener Alastair Cook has applauded wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow for his unbeaten 103 on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday, saying it may have been Bairstow's finest effort in the longest format of the game.
After being 36/4, on day three, Bairstow rescued England by raising 128 for the fifth wicket with Ben Stokes (66) and later shared a stand of 72 for the sixth wicket with Mark Wood (39) before bringing up his seventh Test hundred in the last over of the day as England reached 258/7 at stumps, still trailing Australia by 158 runs.
"It was probably his best Test knock in terms of skill, application and bravery. He's such a likable lad and he's had a tough time in Test cricket over the last couple of years. In and out of the side, losing the gloves, batting at No 3, No 5, No 7," said Cook on BT Sport after the day's play.
Cook felt Bairstow has all the qualities to be in the Test side once the team goes into rebuild mode in terms of red-ball cricket post the Ashes. "This will do Jonny the world of good as he will have doubted himself over this period of time. I hope it has proved to him that he can play Test cricket again and stoked the fire and started the rebuild of English cricket in terms of the fight and spirit needed."
"He is the sort of player you want to build a team around in terms of determination, courage and fight, which has been lacking in this series. The way he played Lyon, sweeping, paddle sweeping, hitting him for a couple of big sixes. That intent allied with clarity of thought and sticking to a game-plan knocked the stuffing out of Australia. It was a truly spectacular Test hundred."
All-rounder Moeen Ali believes Bairstow is a better batter when coming at number six or seven in Tests. "I think No 6 or 7 is a really good number for him. He can be dangerous if we have played really well at the top and also has the technique if we are struggling. He took his time getting in but then scored quickly, going through the gears and almost went one-day mode by standing leg-side and playing a few shots before going back into his shell later on and played normally again."
Ali pointed out that Bairstow had gone back to his previous technique. "He is a brilliant player, in my opinion. Bairstow doesn't panic. He can be brutal but has a lot of finesse about his game as well. I think he has gone back to his old technique, being a bit lower with the backlift and played on instinct."
"He is better when he does that. He made Lyon look pretty average. He played with Lyon, who didn't look like getting him out at all. That's what top batters do and he certainly has the ability to be one of the best players in our team."