Jonny Bairstow’s first Ashes hundred has instantly become his new personal favourite.
It is 18 months since the England wicketkeeper last reached three figures in Tests – he fell an agonising single run short against South Africa at Old Trafford last summer – and, in doing so on the biggest stage of all, he allowed a “whole heap of emotions” to come out.
After the fist-pumping and jumping for joy at the WACA, he threw in a “light-hearted” and spontaneous ‘head-butt’ of the helmet he had just taken off – revisiting the unusual greeting he imparted to Australia opener Cameron Bancroft at the start of the tour.
That bar-room prank ended up causing an unwitting Bairstow plenty of consternation, but as he added his century to Dawid Malan’s on a fluctuating second day of the third Test, he demonstrated it has not cost him his sense of humour.
England went on to lose their last six wickets for 35 to finish 403 all out and then could not stop Steve Smith (92 not out) leading his team to 203 for three at stumps.
Bairstow (119) nonetheless had much reason for personal satisfaction after he and Malan (140) pushed their double-century fifth-wicket stand into Ashes record territory.
“This hundred in many ways was my favourite, because obviously I’ve played in a few Ashes so far now,” the Yorkshireman said. “To score an Ashes hundred is something you dream about as a kid, and it’s eluded me until now.”
It was only when he got caught up in the celebration that he instinctively bumped his forehead on his helmet.
“That was a bit of light-hearted fun, wasn’t it, with everything that’s gone on?” he added. “I’d not thought about (doing it). It was a whole heap of emotions, and that’s exactly what Ashes cricket, what Test cricket, is about.
“You want to be able to look back in the archives when you’ve retired, and say to your kids, your grandkids, ‘I made an Ashes hundred at the WACA’. It meant a huge amount. We talk about a badge of honour, when you’re out there in the dirt on a flat one… but this was a badge of honour for Mala and me.”
What followed after a highly encouraging first hour was disappointing for England.
“At the same time, we were 130 for four – so you could say it was a fantastic recovery from there to get 400 on the board,” Bairstow said. “Or you can look at it and say, ‘Yes, we’ve let the position slip’.”
He remains optimistic, however, on a quick pitch which has already shown signs of deterioration.
“I walked out to bat (on Friday) morning, and the crack on the crease was a good half an inch wider than when we went to bed (on Thursday) night. So you don’t know what you might see when you walk out there (on Saturday).”
England will reassess seamer Craig Overton’s fitness on Saturday morning, after he jarred his rib diving for a caught-and-bowled chance.
Fast bowler Mark Wood has been seconded from the Lions squad here to travel with the Test players to Melbourne and Sydney, where the fourth and fifth matches will take place over Christmas and new year.
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