England vs West Indies: Jonny Bairstow’s century showed a small technical tweak can work wonders


NASSER HUSSAIN: Jonny Bairstow’s century showed a small tweak can work wonders… while Ben Stokes reminded us if it ain’t broke you don’t need to fix it after pair helped turn England’s innings around

  • It’s been well documented how often Jonny Bairstow has been bowled in Tests
  • It’s to do with his technique against the white ball, when he gets leg side of it 
  • A couple of winters ago he worked hard at covering his stumps more effectively
  • Ben Stokes has maybe found that he’s been the victim of too much tinkering
  • REPORT: Bairstow rescues England after disastrous opening session











Test cricketers are always tinkering with their game but that partnership either side of lunch between Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow was a good example of two players who have both been through their own journeys.

And, on the evidence of the first day of the series against West Indies in Antigua, have both emerged at a better place.

Let’s start with Bairstow, who held England together after their top order had failed again, and everyone on social media was wondering whether the red-ball reset that everyone had been talking about was actually just more of the same.

Jonny Bairstow scored an impressive hundred for England on the opening day of the first Test against the West Indies

It's been well documented how often he has been bowled in Test cricket, due to his technique

It’s been well documented how often he has been bowled in Test cricket, due to his technique

It’s been well documented how often he has been bowled in Test cricket — 35 times, more than anyone in the game since he made his debut a decade ago.

It’s to do with his technique against the non-moving white ball, when he gets leg side and hammers it through the covers. But, against the moving red ball, it’s a technique that has got him into difficulty. And it’s probably why England want to keep him away from the new ball — and are batting him down at No 6.

But he worked hard with Graham Thorpe in South Africa a couple of winters ago and practised going back and across, covering his stumps more effectively.

He scored a century at Sydney, another one against the President’s XI last week, and now an impressive ton here.

He scored a century at Sydney in January and another one against the President's XI last week

He scored a century at Sydney in January and another one against the President’s XI last week

The move has clearly paid off — he and Stokes got their tempo spot on after lunch, when they attacked the bad ball and rotated the strike. They have always enjoyed batting together — most famously when they put on 399 at Cape Town six years ago — and they helped turn England’s innings around here.

Stokes, by contrast, has maybe found that he’s been the victim of too much tinkering. I remember tuning into one of the few warm-up days that survived the Brisbane rain back in November, and being amazed at the extent of Stokes’ trigger movement.

He was going a long way across his stumps to the off side — and I couldn’t work out why.

In this England line-up, the two best techniques belong to Joe Root and Stokes, so I couldn’t understand why he was introducing such a major tweak ahead of such an important series.

Ben Stokes, by contrast, has maybe found that he's been the victim of too much tinkering

Ben Stokes, by contrast, has maybe found that he’s been the victim of too much tinkering

I do understand that Stokes likes to try different things at times —sometimes even during the course of an innings. It’s almost as if he gets a bit bored so he starts advancing down the pitch or staying deep in his crease — or moving across to the off side.

But you could see in Australia that he had lost his off stump. He left one delivery that clipped the stump but somehow failed to dislodge the bail and, on other occasions, was playing at balls on fifth or sixth stump that he should have been leaving alone.

He only made 36 on Tuesday, but I liked the fact that his trigger movement was much less pronounced than it was in Australia.

He simplified things and looked far more like the batter who had taken 258 off the South Africans at Cape Town that time.

I liked the fact that his trigger movement was much less pronounced than it was in Australia

I liked the fact that his trigger movement was much less pronounced than it was in Australia

There are times in your career when you might have to perform major surgery to your technique.

I remember when Graham Gooch kept falling lbw to Terry Alderman in the 1989 Ashes because he was going back and across to a wicket-to-wicket bowler. Gooch worked out that his movement simply had to be back and he turned himself into the world’s No 1 batter.

But Bairstow has shown that a small tweak can work wonders and Stokes has reminded us that if it ain’t broke you don’t necessarily need to fix it.

At 48 for four, England could have been in all sorts of bother but those two — and Ben Foakes later on — got it spot on.

They got their tempo spot on after lunch, when they attacked the bad ball and rotated  strike

They got their tempo spot on after lunch, when they attacked the bad ball and rotated  strike

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