Bairstow happy to be in runs
England batsman Jonny Bairstow was upbeat despite missing out on a maiden Test century against South Africa at Lord's on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Yorkshireman made light of the circumstances, as a late replacement against South Africa for the dropped Kevin Pietersen, with England's world number one status on the line - and at a critical 54 for four, against one of the best attacks on the planet.
He could not quite convert the highest score so far in this heavyweight tussle at HQ into a century at the home of cricket.
But Bairstow's 95 helped England into a six-run lead, and even after South Africa had gone comfortably back in front on 145 for three by stumps on day three, this third Test remains in the balance.
Bairstow simply never flinched against a tactical barrage of short balls from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel after walking in to join Ian Bell.
That was yesterday, of course, and today, after coming so close to his maiden hundred, he recalled his thoughts when he first made his way to the crease.
"Let's go!" he said.
"In some ways it's quite lucky, in some ways not so lucky, that I've been in some situations like that with Yorkshire.
"So when you walk to the crease and you're under the pump a little bit it's something I quite enjoy.
"No qualms about it - it was obviously a very tough period of play that we had to try to see ourselves through."
He and Bell did so in a century stand, Bairstow once again demonstrating the mettle which saw him hit a blistering match-winning innings on his one-day international debut against India just under a year ago.
He has had his difficulties since, but also has a match-turning Twenty20 contribution against Pakistan in the Middle East on his CV.
Formats, and occasions, seem to come alike to him then. But he nonetheless made it clear the challenge he faced here was as tough as he has experienced.
"Yes, they're a world class attack," he said.
"Playing out there in a Test against the number two (team) in the world is never going to be easy.
"Steyn, Morkel, (Vernon) Philander, (Jacques) Kallis and (Imran) Tahir are a formidable attack.
"They're all tough. That's why they're the world's best, and best in South Africa.
"There isn't a single bowler in that attack that isn't world-class."
He is not too downhearted either, at missing out on putting his name on the Lord's honours board.
"I was pleased with the way that I played. To get 95, I was delighted," he said.
"I was a bit disappointed not to get to the 100. Although it is only five runs, it would have been nice."
Bairstow's runs, especially against such a heavyweight attack, demonstrated he has overcome the vulnerability against short bowling many perceived against West Indies earlier this summer.
He was dropped after his third Test at Trent Bridge, where Kemar Roach was his undoing.
"When you kind of get exploited in some sort of way, you go away and look at things," he said.
"But at the same time, there were no drastic changes that I made.
"I did perhaps go through a bit of a dry spell with the runs. It's not going to happen just like that. It's something that's ongoing.
"You can't just change via the click of a finger. It goes through practice, through stages.
"I've implemented some of those things, but at the same time there's still a way to go."
After Steven Finn had Jacques Kallis lbw on Saturday evening, Bairstow can still hope to be part of a famous England victory over the next two days - but knows as well as anyone they will have to play very well to come out on top.
He said: "We were toiling pretty hard all afternoon, so to come away with that important wicket near the end was fantastic.
"It's pretty level. If we can get a few wickets early on and then get the full seven, we'll be looking to chase down anything we're set."
South Africa have at least equal reason to be optimistic.
Their assistant coach Russell Domingo said: "If someone said at the start of the series we would be 1-0 up and 150 ahead with two days left we would have taken that.
"We think we are in a good position tonight. If we can score another 80 or 90 runs in the morning that will put England under some pressure."
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