Belfast Telegraph

Criticism won't hurt England's belief: Bairstow


Meaning business: Jonny Bairstow is confident England will bounce back and reach the semi-finals
Meaning business: Jonny Bairstow is confident England will bounce back and reach the semi-finals
Hitting out: Michael Vaughan
Kevin Pietersen

By Nick Purewal

Jonny Bairstow has insisted England will hold their World Cup nerve, dismissing criticism from Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan as "just showbiz".

Yorkshire star Bairstow has vowed Eoin Morgan's side will not tense up for their do-or-die clashes with India and New Zealand.

Pietersen branded skipper Morgan "scared" in the hosts' 64-run loss to Australia, while former captain Vaughan fears England could be headed for their worst ever World Cup.

Three defeats in seven round-robin matches leave the hosts battling for semi-final qualification, but Bairstow believes any panic is consigned to those outside the England camp.

"It is just showbiz: they are paid to have an opinion, and if they don't have an opinion they get sacked," said Bairstow.

"I was in a radio interview and was surprised with a clip of Vaughan's comments.

"Bloody hell. That's pretty rich. But of course people are going to say things, of course they are.

"Because we've done so well, any opportunity for someone to see we've lost two games, they were always going to jump on it.

"People were waiting for us to fail. They are not willing us on to win, in many ways, they are waiting for you to get that loss, so they can jump on your throat.

"It's a typical English thing to do, in every sport.

"Look how successful Eddie Jones was, then all of a sudden a training camp is wrong and it's his fault. The same with Stuart Lancaster.

"At the end of the day there's 30 blokes sat in the meetings and in the dressing rooms that know what we've been working towards for the last three years.

"So it's not just the players staying true to it, it's the coaches, the medical staff; it's a collective, and that's what we have been.

"Now we just have to be relaxed: the more you tense up, then the more you're going to go into your shell and therefore not play how you've been playing.

"The more true to ourselves we can be, you can almost go the complete opposite to what we've done.

"That's how you get your 480s. You almost go the complete opposite."

World No.1 England entered their home World Cup with many tipping the pre-tournament favourites to break the 500-run barrier.

Unexpectedly tricky pitches have left all the teams unable to match the hefty scores of the last few years though, leaving Bairstow insisting England have no need for radical changes.

"We've messed a couple of games up, but our method doesn't change," said Bairstow. "If you suddenly go striving for different things from what have stood you in good stead over a period of time then you're searching for something that you are probably not going to find.

"None of the pitches throughout the whole tournament have been as true as they have been previously. I have no idea why.

"But the scores have not been as high as they have been over the last two years in England, even New Zealand have got 230.

"So it's almost going back to where it was two, three years ago, around the world.

"I'm not making excuses: we've not played well enough to beat sides when we should have done. And we should have got over the line in at least two of the three.

"Just because we've lost two games - yes, it's in a crunch tournament - and people start talking it's not going to change the way we go about it. But we've now got knockout games all the way to the end of the tournament and that's exciting."

Meanwhile, JP Duminy insists South Africa will be "man enough" to accept whatever changes come as a result of the Proteas' abysmal World Cup.

Veteran all-rounder Duminy will retire from one-day internationals after the tournament, but wants to help head coach Ottis Gibson's side salvage some pride in their two remaining matches.

South Africa will suffer their worst ever World Cup unless they beat Sri Lanka and Australia, two dead-rubbers given they cannot qualify for the semi-finals.

Gibson's contract expires after the tournament and looks unlikely to be renewed, while Faf Du Plessis could lose the captaincy.

Duminy insisted South Africa will face up to all of that square on - but not before battling on in the middle, starting with today's clash with Sri Lanka in Durham.

Asked how South African cricket moves on, Duminy said: "I wish I could give you an answer. The important thing for us is to take responsibility and stand up and be man enough to know that you know we have come up short.

"I don't know what decisions will be made. But going on previous World Cups, there will probably be some shifting."

Belfast Telegraph


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