Bairstow suffers highs and lows against Sri Lanka

The debate about Bairstow keeping wicket for England intensified when he dropped Dimuth Karunaratne on the second day.

Published: 10th June 2016 09:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2016 10:33 AM   |  A+A-

Bairstow-AFP

England's wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow (L) reacts to dropping a catch to take the wicket of Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne during play on the second day of the third Test cricket match between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's cricket ground in London on

By AFP

LONDON: Jonny Bairstow continued a brilliant year of run-scoring with a Test-best 167 not out against Sri Lanka at Lord's on Friday

But the debate about whether Bairstow should keep wicket for England intensified when he dropped Dimuth Karunaratne on the second day of the third Test

At tea, Sri Lanka were 62 without loss in reply to England's first innings 416, a deficit of 354 runs.

Left-hander Karunaratne was 30 not out and Kaushal Silva 31 not out.

But Karunaratne should have gone for 28 when he got an edge off all-rounder Chris Woakes only for Bairstow to drop the two-handed waist-high chance.

Even allowing for the possibility that Bairstow was mentally and physically tired after his more than six-hour innings, and that the ball 'wobbled' a touch before reaching him, it was still an extraordinary miss by a Test keeper.

It is not the first time this series that Bairstow has grassed a routine chance -- although Friday's miss was the most glaring.

For all that Bairstow has repeatedly insisted he wants to keep wicket for England, he is now posing some awkward questions for the selectors who must be tempted to deploy him as a specialist batsman.

Prolific

It wasn't until January that the 26-year-old Bairstow scored his first hundred in Test cricket.

But since January 1 he has been in prolific form with the bat for both county champions Yorkshire and England, scoring 594 runs at an average of 118.8 in Tests and 1,127 runs in a ll first-class cricket at 102.4.

Friday saw Bairstow receive good support from Woakes (whose 66 was his maiden Test fifty) in a seventh-wicket partnership of 144.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Rangana Herath took four for 81 on a good pitch for batting.

England resumed on 279 for six with Bairstow, dropped on 11, 107 not out and Woakes unbeaten on 23.

Bairstow's second century of the series, following his 140 on his Headingley home ground in the first Test, helped rescue England from the depths of 84 for four.

Woakes was the initial aggressor on Friday, cutting Herath for four and then clipping paceman Nuwan Pradeep off his pads for another boundary.

Woakes, recalled for England's series-clinching nine-wicket win in the second Test in Durham after fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes was injured, then cover-drove Shaminda Eranga for a resounding boundary.

Another four off Eranga -- playing despite having his action reported in the second Test -- saw Woakes to a fifty in 102 balls with seven boundaries.

But Woakes fell when caught and bowled by Herath off a chipped drive.

Bairstow batted on, however, and his leg-glanced four off Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews saw him surpass his previous Test-best 150 not out against South Africa at Cape Town in January.

England, 384 for seven at lunch, were bowled out early in the second session.

Bairstow, having faced 251 balls including 18 fours, walked back into a pavilion where the spectators included cricket great Garry Sobers.

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