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Mark Ramprakash finds it challenging to coach Jonny Bairstow due to his highly instinctive nature, despite him being a skilled batter.
Cricket Sport

: Mark Ramprakash finds it challenging to coach Jonny Bairstow due to his highly instinctive nature, despite him being a skilled batter.


This is not Jonny Bairstow’s best series, but it concludes with a fantastic achievement: his 100th Test appearance. He is now among the 17 English players to achieve this milestone, and even with this success, I believe he may be undervalued.

I have consistently viewed him as a skilled player since he first made his debut for the Yorkshire team and consistently delivered impressive scores, even in challenging circumstances when the ball was behaving unpredictably. In my opinion, he possesses the qualities of a well-rounded batsman who excels in all formats. His performance in the year 2022, during which he achieved six of his 12 Test centuries, demonstrated his potential when he is in a positive, relaxed environment, supported by his teammates, and able to strike a balance between tapping into his emotions for motivation and maintaining a clear mind to make sound shot selections and successfully execute them.

As a coach, I must admit that collaborating with him was not easy. This was not due to anything he did incorrectly, but rather because we have vastly different personalities. I am someone who values structure and organization, and when it comes to training and getting ready, I rely heavily on established routines, similar to many elite athletes.

Not Jonny. I could set my clock by Alastair Cook or Ian Bell; I’d know exactly when they’d be coming down the pavilion steps ready to net because it would be the same as the previous day, and the same as the next one. With Jonny you would never quite know what he might want to do: he might want a few throws out of the hand for 10 minutes, or he might want to work with the bowling machine for an hour and a half. His method is no less valid than mine – he is just more spontaneous and instinctive. The challenge for a coach is to adapt to players and their preferences.

During a series against India at home, I recall discussing the opposing team’s bowling strategy with the batting group. We specifically addressed the challenges posed by Ishant Sharma, who was known for his skill in bowling inswingers to right-handed batsmen. As a group, we talked about various techniques for countering his delivery. While most agreed on moving towards the off stump and playing towards the leg side, Jonny bravely shared his own perspective. He believed he could remain on the leg stump and still hit the ball through the off side, even with the swing.

During another time, I was practicing with him in the cricket nets. I was throwing the ball from a side angle, trying to mimic Mitchell Starc’s throw. He continued to try to hit the ball while it was in the air, which is a difficult technique. Unfortunately, he was struggling that morning. I asked him how he was feeling and he confidently replied, “I’m fine.” However, aiming for a high bounce when the ball is swinging and seaming is quite challenging. He has always been someone who goes for the bold approach when playing at his best.

Jonny Bairstow will become the 17th Englishman to reach a century of Test caps in Dharamsala.View image in fullscreen

It is a widely held belief that Jonny delivers his top performances when he has a point to prove. He is driven by the desire to prove his critics wrong. The England team is often surrounded by a lot of chatter, with constant comments in print and social media as well as from TV commentators. Some players may choose to ignore this as a distraction.

Jonny benefited from it. I have previously discussed a game in Sri Lanka in 2018 where he and Stuart Broad were brought in, and Mike Atherton called it “The B Team.” While Mike was most likely just acknowledging their shared initials, Jonny took it as an insult and was angry. Despite this, he managed to score a century on the first day.


As he prepares for the upcoming game, he will be mindful of the discussions surrounding his place in the team. In my opinion, the decision ultimately lies with him. He has proven to be a talented player in short-format games, but the question remains whether he still has the determination and drive to succeed in Test cricket with all its challenges and requirements. After this tour, he will have the opportunity to make his choice. This week marks his 100th test.

I anticipate that during the test, he will be emotionally enthusiastic and driven to demonstrate his abilities once more. While he has an average of only 21.25 in this series, he has shown some promising moments and played some impressive shots. I believe a strong innings is on the horizon.

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His strong reaction to criticism suggests he is emotionally delicate, and during interviews he can come across as irritable. However, he has a genuine affection for others and enjoys being in social settings. He willingly interacts with fans and is adept at socializing and forming relationships. When spending time with him, one can sense his genuine interest and find him attentive and welcoming.

When he initially entered the England team’s dressing room, I believe it took him a considerable amount of time to feel welcomed. Considering his unique family background and the fact that he showed remarkable courage in overcoming a serious injury in 2022, which was often underestimated, achieving this milestone while in the best form of his career is truly impressive.

Although he has had his highs and lows, he has proven to be a talented player for England and has gained numerous admirers globally. If I had the chance to be with him now, I would simply offer my congratulations, embrace him, and encourage him to continue giving his all, as he always does. Just like his many supporters, I will proudly watch as he earns his 100th cap. Rather than questioning his position on the team, let us celebrate it.

Source: theguardian.com