Bairstow relishing the sterner test posed by South Africa


Jonny Bairstow recognises England must "go up a level" against South Africa as they ramp up their preparations for the ICC Champions Trophy.

England were comfortable 2-0 winners over Ireland earlier this month - their margins of victory coming by seven wickets and 85 runs against the associate nation.

Next up for Eoin Morgan's side is a three-match series against the number-one-ranked Proteas, starting at Headingley on Wednesday before the Champions Trophy gets under way on June 1.

"They [South Africa] are playing a fantastic brand of cricket so it's going to be a thrilling series, a tough one but something we're all looking forward to and hopefully we can put on a great spectacle for those who come and watch," Bairstow told Omnisport.

"We had a couple of good performances against Ireland.

"We know we have to go up a level against South Africa, and leading into the Champions Trophy it's something we're keen to progress and go into that full of confidence.

"You've got eight of the top nations in the world and anyone can beat anyone on any given day, so we know we can't slack off, a bad hour can cost us the whole game."

Bairstow has been in fine form for his county, Yorkshire, averaging more than 50 in the Royal London One-Day Cup, while he crashed an unbeaten 72 from just 44 balls in the second ODI against Ireland.

"I'm happy with where my game's at, I'm happy with how I'm striking the ball and catching the ball," he said.

"For me it's a case of consistency, keeping going, keeping working hard and going forward from there."

Bairstow is one of three wicketkeepers in England's Champions Trophy squad, along with Jos Buttler and Sam Billings, but says it matters little who dons the gloves out in the middle.

"Not at all. It's a great position for English cricket to be in," he said.

"In the squad we've at the moment we've got three keepers, whether it's Jos or myself, it's a great place for English cricket to be."