Jonny Bairstow has shown fine form with the gloves at the start of the series with South Africa, putting this down to the break from keeping wicket while part of the England one-day set-up as opposed than any additional hard work in training.
After a near flawless performance in the win at Lord’s, which featured an acrobatic leg-side catch to start South Africa’s fourth-day collapse and some tidy work stood up to the stumps on a spinning track, the Yorkshireman took this through to Trent Bridge.
The take to remove Faf du Plessis for 19 during the evening session – an even more spectacular flying effort down the leg side after the touring captain gloved one off Ben Stokes – was one of two catches on a hard-fought day he described as “pretty even” after stumps.
Bairstow, who trained with England coach Bruce French and Nottinghamshire’s Chris Read before this Test, said: “I’d not kept for six weeks before the series. I’ve been doing some work but it’s more a case of not overcomplicating things – a prime example of going into something fresh and excited by the challenge of keeping wicket.”
While in the form of his life with the bat at present, the 27-year-old has always been touchy when asked about his glovework. During the tour of South Africa in early 2016, the former Proteas wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, was complimentary about Bairstow’s keeping but said for all his ability, he needed to be “thicker skinned” if he wanted to improve.
Asked what he took such an appraisal from a 147-cap veteran to mean, Bairstow replied: “There’s so many different interpretations of being thicker skinned. You can be stubborn or you can be receptive to information individuals give you.
“It’s important that you do listen to people and do take in relevant information but you are good at sifting. That’s not just me, that’s part of international cricket. There will be people giving you advice, saying you could be doing this or that, but learning to sift is important.”
On the match situation, which saw South Africa rally to 309 for six by stumps on the first day thanks to a 74-run seventh-wicket stand from Vernon Philander and Chris Morris, Bairstow said: “It could have been quite heavily in their favour if we hadn’t have got those four wickets in the last session. We will be in with a chance in the morning.”
Quinton de Kock, Bairstow’s opposite number who stroked 68 from No4, added: “We had a lot to prove today. The last Test was disappointing and we knew we needed to fight, to throw the first punch.”