Jonny Bairstow picked up where he left off in Sydney with a century on the second day of England’s Test warm-up in the West Indies.
Bairstow celebrated an unbeaten 106 against a CWI President’s XI in Antigua, raising his bat just before the tea interval and ushering in a declaration at 466 for six.
Back in January at the SCG he was responsible for the only English century of a torrid Ashes campaign, but also sustained a fractured thumb that ruled him out of the abject finale in Hobart.
Ton up for Bairstow, carrying on where he left off in Sydney. pic.twitter.com/X6sEseB96K— Rory Dollard (@thervd) March 2, 2022
Pain-free and slotting back in at number six at the Coolidge Cricket Ground he imposed himself on a weary home attack as they laboured on a pitch that had long since gone to sleep. He piled up 13 boundaries and a six in two dominant sessions to underline his status as a vital cog in this revamped batting line-up.
Resuming on four not out overnight, Bairstow became the fifth player to pass fifty following Zak Crawley (62), Alex Lees (65), Joe Root (54) and Dan Lawrence (83). Chris Woakes would surely have followed suit on his 33rd birthday but was left high and dry on 49 when Root called his side in.
That left a full session for England’s bowlers to show there is life after James Anderson and Stuart Broad – both controversially overlooked for this trip – but the seam attack found little joy in the surface.
The local side reached 48 for two, the initial breakthrough coming when Craig Overton ran out a hesitant Jeremy Solozano off his own bowling before Jack Leach spun one through Shayne Moseley’s booming drive.
Woakes and Ollie Robinson took new-ball duties, just as they did back in the Ashes opener at the Gabba in December when Anderson and Broad were not deemed fit, but were unable to create any real mischief.
They shared 14 overs but managed no more than a late shout for caught behind off Robinson. Root would have liked to call on some extra pace but with Mark Wood off the field and Ben Stokes so far only bowling in the session breaks, he was unable to move the dial.
England suggested Wood was merely resting, taking his turn out in what is a 12-a-side contest, and there has been no mention of an injury to the quick.
Bairstow began the day with four to his name, initially allowing Lawrence to take the lead. The Essex player was an unused squad member throughout the Ashes, unable to crack the side despite a series of dreadful batting collapses in Australia, but will see this month’s three-match series as a chance to lock down his place in the middle order.
He clobbered an early six to turn his overnight 46no into a fifty and peeled off a series of drives and cuts as he advanced towards a hundred. But he was caught off guard by a lifter from Colin Archibald, prodding a catch to slip as it kicked off the pitch to fall 17 short.
Bairstow would not be denied, making his way through two sessions with no trouble, smashing anything loose with full force and particularly enjoying any invitation to pull or hit straight.
A deft reverse sweep for four off spinner Bryan Charles showed his range and, with England keen to get into the field and give their bowlers a run out, he timed his charge perfectly. He reached his century just before tea, flicking Preston McSween off his hips and down to the fine-leg ropes.
As he accepted the applause of his team-mates on his return to the dressing room, Root called time on the innings after 145 overs and sent the hosts in. Ben Foakes had earlier given his wicket away for 25, picking out square leg as he turned Shermon Lewis round the corner, but despite Bairstow’s preference for keeping wicket the Surrey man looks set to take the gloves in next week’s first Test.