Like Joe Root, chances to see Jonny Bairstow in a Yorkshire shirt may be few and far between these days. But every time he does return to Emerald Headingley, he has you on the edge of your seat.
What’s that phrase? ‘He’s worth the entrance fee alone’. That just about sums Bairstow’s style of play up.
A firebrand with the bat, he never takes a backward step.
He has been exciting the White Rose faithful ever since scoring 28 and 82 on debut in mid-2009. And now he is regarded as one of the world’s best wicketkeeper-batsmen in all formats of the game.
That his place as England’s Test Match wicketkeeper has been pinched by Ben Foakes shows how good the Surrey man is. But this new deal will allow Bairstow time to prove he is still the country’s number one.
Bairstow and Root are poster boys of Yorkshire Cricket and have been for some time, the darling of the club’s membership and support base.
The 29-year-old is not just a star cricketer, he is a rare sporting talent.
He excelled at football, rugby (he loves both codes) and hockey whilst at St Peter’s School in York, and spent time as a right-back on the Leeds United Academy.
He followed his late father David’s path into cricket.
Bairstow was the inaugural winner of the Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year in 2008 having scored three centuries in 654 runs from eight innings playing for St Peter’s in 2007.
He graduated through Yorkshire’s Academy and scored a glut of half-centuries before his maiden first-class hundred came in some style against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 2011, a magnificent 205.
To date, he has 24 first-class hundreds to his name, including a best of 246 whilst playing for Yorkshire and six Test tons.
Bairstow’s up and at ‘em approach to batting in the lower middle order put so many international opposition under pressure, but captain Root and coach Trevor Bayliss knew he had the ability to bat higher up.
So when Foakes impressed and held onto the gloves following a an ankle injury to Bairstow during the recent tour of Sri Lanka, they saw a place for him at number three. And he rewarded them with a brilliant century at the first attempt as England clinched a 3-0 series win.
Given he had been left out of the second Test and was under intense scrutiny, his success further demonstrated an enviable inner steel.
Bairstow is highlighted by Academy director and second XI coach Ian Dews as an example to emulate for the club’s young talent coming through the ranks.
A two-time Ashes winner and a two-time County Championship winner with Yorkshire, there is every chance he will add a one-day World Cup title to that collection given England are favourites for that particular crown on home soil next summer.
That will come after his first spell at the Indian Premier League with Sunrisers Hyderabad in April.
Bairstow’s development as a limited overs batsman has not been without frustration given he wasn’t always first choice in an England shirt, but he moved his game to another level and became undroppable when he started opening the batting in ODI cricket.
In the summer of 2017, Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale saw the opening berth in England’s team as an area Bairstow could make his own and opened with him in that summer’s Royal London one-day Cup campaign.
He saw him score a stunning career best 174 off 113 balls against Durham at Emerald Headingley.
At the start of last year, he went on to score three successive ODI centuries against New Zealand and Scotland away and then, in a brief spell playing 10-over cricket in Sharjah last month, smashed an incredible unbeaten 84 off just 24 balls.
Happy New Year Yorkshire fans!