On Tuesday’s last day of the second Test at Trent Bridge, Jonny Bairstow hammered England to a five-wicket triumph against New Zealand, giving England their first series victory since January 2021.
England chased down 299 runs owing to an all-time excellent performance of sheer power from Bairstow, who reached his eighth Test century in as little as 77 balls.
Bairstow came within one delivery of England’s quickest Test century, as he took one more delivery than Gilbert Jessop, who made a 76-ball century against Australia in 1902.
While Bairstow’s performance will not go down in history, it will be a footnote for the 32-year-old, whose show will live on in the minds of anyone who watched it.
Bairstow’s 92-ball masterpiece puzzled New Zealand as he hammered 14 fours and seven sixes in front of a sell-out crowd at Trent Bridge.
Bairstow ensured England had another successful final-day chase after chasing down 277 to win the first Test at Lord’s by five wickets due to Joe Root’s 115 not out.
All four outcomes were feasible at lunch, with England needing 160 runs with six wickets remaining.
The extraordinary Bairstow, backed up by captain Ben Stokes, crushed the Test world champions with an unbroken 75.
It was the biggest final-innings run chase in a Test at Trent Bridge, beating England’s previous best of 284 against New Zealand in 2004.
England, who had only won one of their 17 matches before this series, is gaining traction under new captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
England has embraced their ambition for persistently upbeat and aggressive cricket, and they will want to sweep the series in the last Test at Headingley on June 23.
This triumph was more impressive considering New Zealand scored 553 in the first innings after Stokes chose to bowl first, thanks to Daryl Mitchell’s 190.
Onslaught in Bairstow
Stokes’ choice may have been series-defining, but England rescued their captain by amassing 539 in their first innings, with Root hitting 176 and Pope 145.
Late in the fourth day, New Zealand’s second-innings collapse gave England additional motivation to win.
They took advantage of the opportunity in spectacular fashion, knocking the Kiwis out for 284 in the first session of the last day.
Bairstow took things into his own hands as the match seemed to be on a knife’s edge going into the final session.
With a boundary off Matt Henry, the Yorkshire batsman reached 50 from 51 balls in style.
Bairstow was leading the England assault, dismissing Trent Boult for six in the following over, and he and Stokes grabbed 42 from the opening 16 balls of the evening session.
Bairstow continued his attack by hitting Boult for two more sixes, giving him six maximums since the interval.
As the audience yelled their pleasure, England had scored 59 from five overs, putting them on the verge of victory.
Shell-shocked As he marched towards an incredible century, New Zealand had no response for Bairstow.
Stokes was suffering from a knee issue, but he kept going, smashing another four following a physio visit.
Bairstow continued his onslaught at the other end as New Zealand’s bowlers lost their heads, but he fell short of England’s quickest century after a couple of defensive shots.
After being caught behind Boult and receiving a boisterous standing ovation, England was on their way to triumph, inspired by Bairstow’s magnificent effort.