One Hundred Heroes Bairstow lead stunning England v New Zealand rally
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Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jonny Bairstow was once again a hundred heroes for England as debutant Jamie Overton played his part in a stunning fightback against New Zealand on Friday.
England were in dire straits when the pair came together 55-6 in response to the Black Caps’ first 329 innings in the Third Test at Headingley.
Still, they finished day two 264-6, just 65 points behind.
Bairstow was 130 paces ahead of his Yorkshire home crowd, with fast bowler Overton, who has just a first-class cent, unbeaten on 89.
On a day when New Zealand all-rounder Daryl Mitchell compiled his third century in the series, Bairstow and Overton combined in an unbroken partnership of 209 – a new England record seventh wicket in a Test.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bairstow, whose superb 136 led England to a five-wicket win and a series win at Trent Bridge, told Sky Sports.
“This place (Headingley) means a lot to me. To be a boy from Yorkshire scoring a hundred tests at home is quite special.
“For Jamie (Overton) to play the way he did, on his debut, under pressure, to have the confidence to play the way he did against this New Zealand attack, that’s exceptional.”
England led 2-0 in the three-game series playing bold and aggressive cricket under their new management of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
But England returned to type on Friday in a frantic slump, with quick left-arm Trent Boult routing the first order in a superb swing-and-bowl spell that gave three wickets for nine runs from four overs.
Bairstow and Overton, disregarding the conventional wisdom that consolidation is needed after a batting slump, counterattacked in style, although the Yorkshireman was missed on the 27th when Neil Wagner dropped a return on a drive checked.
It was, however, a rare mistake on the part of Bairstow, whose 50-year-old managed just 51 balls.
Overton, selected ahead of twin brother Craig in place of the injured James Anderson, demonstrated a wide range of offensive hitting on a 68-ball fifty.
Bairstow, having reached fifth on 51 balls, finished his 10th hundred in 86 career Tests by knocking out Boult for a 15th four on 95 balls faced.
The 32-year-old son of late England wicket-keeper David Bairstow sprinted in celebration to the stand where his mother, Janet, was watching before stopping to wave to the cheers of the crowd.
“Any time you score a Test hundred, it’s emotional,” Bairstow said. “It means so much to me to play Test cricket for England.
“That’s the kind of guy I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve.”
Earlier, Alex Lees was knocked out of the fifth ball of England’s response by a superb Boult leg-cut before clearing Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley.
Southee then had England star batsman Joe Root trailed for five to leave England reeling at 21-4.
Although Stokes counterattacked by driving Southee for six, he could only chip Wagner halfway by attempting a similar shot.
Three balls later, Wagner had a second wicket in his first over of the series when Ben Foakes was plumb for nothing to leave England 55-6.
New Zealand had recovered 225-5, with Mitchell turning their 78 overnight into a run of 109.
In the process, he broke a 73-year-old New Zealand record for most runs in a series against England.
Mitchell has scored 482 goals this campaign, 20 more than Martin Donnelly in 1949.
Mitchell went 120 with Tom Blundell, who made 55 before he was lower than Matthew Potts, a borderline decision he was unable to review as the DRS were out of action at the time.
But Mitchell completed his last hundred fairy tales by running Jack Leach for six years.
Trying to repeat the shot, however, his 228-ball innings ended when a misguided spinner drive was well caught by Stokes, returning from halfway.
Leach, whose Test career was blighted by illness, injury and inconsistent selection, finished an impressive 5-100 in 38.3 overs.
© 2022 AFP