Bairstow shines as England recover from Proteas onslaught
England recovered brilliantly after a disastrous start to their innings on day two of the third Test against South Africa at Lord's, with Jonny Bairstow and Ian Bell helping their team recover from 54 for four to reach stumps on 208 for five.
Bairstow, in the side replacing Kevin Pietersen and under a lot of pressure to fill those big boots, ended the day on 72 not out, after playing a measured yet fluid innings in the face of rapid, aggressive bowling by the Proteas.
Bell, having come in with his side in dire straits after Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel used the new ball to devastating effect, made 58 but fell just before the close, having put on a partnership of 124 with Bairstow.
Earlier in the day, South Africa had lost their three wickets that remained overnight to record 309 all out, with Vernon Philander joining Bairstow in bagging a maiden Test fifty, before he was out for 61.
England wrapped up the visitors' tail within the first hour of the day, though Morkel and Steyn added valuable runs thanks to nifty cameos as the Proteas reached their precious 300, having also been 54 for four the day before and 267 for seven overnight.
England's innings got off to a disastrous start, with the new ball's magic shining again as the pace bowlers ripped through the top order. Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and James Taylor were all back in the pavilion before tea, leaving Bairstow and Bell to salvage the innings.
Strauss, playing in his 100th Test, fell in the over before the lunch interval with the score on 29, finding his bails in the air after Morkel had spent an hour ripping the ball into his ribs.
After lunch, Cook was joined in the middle by Trott, and immediately Steyn was on the alert. Having dismissed the former Capetonian twice before in the series, the world's best bowler roared in with aggression.
The plan worked quickly, as Steyn trapped Trott in front, but umpire Dharmasena, hesitant to say 'out' at any point in the game, said no to the appeal. Graeme Smith and the slips were convinced and sent it for review, and they were proven correct as the ball was hitting flush half way up leg stump.
England's third wicket fell soon after, also to Steyn, thanks to a very sharp (somewhat lucky) catch by Jacques Kallis in the slips. Cook chased at a wide delivery, a very loose stroke from such an attentive player, and got the outside edge with his score on seven.
Taylor came to the middle and he and Bell tried to stifle the very quick bowling by the Proteas pace trio. Batting was agonisingly slow, and the strangle-hold finally made sure Taylor played a loose shot to Morkel in the 24th over. The Nottinghamshire man edged Morkel to the slips, where Graeme Smith took a good, low catch.
Bairstow was next in, and was predictably greeted by a barrage of short balls after his shaky reception of such bowling on debut against the West Indies. He resisted manfully though, and he and Bell put on a partnership of 40 to steady HMS England into tea.
The scoring became freer as the afternoon wore on, with Imran Tahir in particular providing Bairstow with a number of boundaries as he crept towards his maiden fifty. The half-sacred mark finally arrived in the 54th over, with the England dressing room rising as one ('unity of purpose', of course) to applaud the Yorkshire lad.
Bell, so similar in temperament and style, added a fifty of his own a few overs later, with their partnership well over 100 as the Lord's crowd roused themselves from their afternoon naps to clap for the Warwickshire man, who had taken a sedate 135 balls to reach his target.
Bell's resistance finally crumbled in the 62nd over, after Philander spent ages tempting him six inches outside the off stump. Bell gave into temptation and nicked it to gully, where Alviro Petersen took a smart catch just above the grass.
Matt Prior came to the crease and batted without a hint of caution, propelling England past 200 as the ball still zipped past the bat at 88mph, despite being over 70 overs old.