Andrew Strauss, ECB, England, England vs Pakistan, England vs Sri Lanka, Johny Bairstow, Kevin Pietersen
The 2012 cricket season witnessed the devolution and evolution of England’s international sides within a rollercoaster 12-month period. From below-par performances against Pakistan and Sri Lanka to a respectable victory over West Indies in the spring, collapse and humbling to the might of South Africa to redemption on Indian soil, 2012 had it all.
England lost its captain but cemented a new leader in the history books when Alastair Cook not only took over from Andrew Strauss but proved the country’s greatest ever centurion, while Kevin Pietersen finally smoothed over the cracks in his relationship with the ECB.
Throughout all this, however, there has been a player slowly plying his trade and quietly gaining experience on the Test front. Jonny Bairstow is not yet a household name but 2012 has proven a fruitful year for the 23-year-old, who made his Test debut against West Indies at Lord’s after impressing for county side, Yorkshire.
The right-hander struggled to impress the Betfair Cricket pundits in his first three Test appearances but a stunning 95 and 54 against South Africa at Lord’s in August propelled the youngster into genuine middle-order contention. Scoring 149 over two innings against the world number one Test side is an achievement many seasoned sixth-men would boast of but Bairstow quite calmly took the tally in his stride.
His performance earned him a reserve role in the squad that toured India with great success and, although Bairstow made just nine from his one innings in Mumbai, his willingness to wear the helmet in the field earned his side three wickets off spin deliveries.
Overall, Bairstow has had a low-key debut season in the England whites but nevertheless a solid one. After all the turmoil that surrounded the side this year, it is pleasing to know there are youngsters still able progress up the ranks and earn Test caps, for experience at this level over the 2012 season will seriously improve the international side’s standing in the England betting odds.