Blustery conditions played their part in dropped catches as England beat NZ XI
Jonny Bairstow insists the strong wind was a factor in England dropping several chances during their Twenty20 warm-up win over a New Zealand XI in Lincoln.
The Yorkshireman’s terrific 78 not out from 45 deliveries underpinned a six-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare after England had earlier been rusty in the field in the genteel surroundings of the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.
Saqib Mahmood shelled what seemed two straightforward chances at long leg, both times off the bowling of fellow newcomer Pat Brown, but the gusts that regularly swept over the ground noticeably impacted both teams.
Anton Devcich (62) and Anaru Kitchen (50no) maximised their reprieves to lift the hosts to 172 for four but Bairstow anchored England’s pursuit in his first innings since being dropped from the Test side.
Bairstow was unfazed by England’s fielding display, insisting any kinks can be ironed out before the start of the T20 series against the Kiwis, which gets under way in Christchurch on Friday.
Speaking about the dropped catches, he said: “I think that’s a minor negative in what has been a very positive game.
“Just picking up on those catches, one of them dropped short, one of them goes into the wind, the others down wind. It’s not just as easy to say ‘we dropped sitters’.
“There are a few bits that we’ll want to clean up with our performance but that’s the whole point of the practice games: to get settled in.”
Fast bowlers Mahmood and Brown were in England colours for the first time, as was Somerset opener Tom Banton.
Brown went through his repertoire of variations but leaked 39 runs from his four overs while Mahmood’s last two deliveries were both dispatched beyond the ropes to spoil his figures as he finished with nought for 35.
Banton, meanwhile, launched his second ball for six as he partnered Bairstow at the top of the order before being dismissed for 11, trapped lbw by Lockie Ferguson, one of five current or former internationals who lined up for the hosts.
Assessing the debutants, Bairstow said: “It went well. It was something to let the guys get settled in. This won’t be the perfect performance from them, there’s bound to be nerves, bound to be bits that they’ll want to improve.
“But the conditions, running into the wind from the (bowlers), it’s a huge effort to be running in and trying to execute your skills the first time you’ve played for England, so I thought they did really well.”
Bairstow was omitted from the Test portion of the tour, following an average of just 20.25 in nine matches this year, but he is not dwelling on his axing.
He added: “I’m on this tour to naturally score as many runs as possible, that’s what’s going to be the key to winning games of cricket.
“I’m not going to be going out there thinking ‘let’s get some low scores’, you want to go out and get as many runs as possible.
“Selection is gone now, I’ve got some things to work on, I’m working very hard and I’m really enjoying that challenge.”