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Jonny Bairstow bites back at critics after Ashes innings of 99 not out: It's tiresome, I've played 94 games

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow: "Everyone thinks I play better when people go at me, and it gets a bit tiresome. To keep being told: 'You're rubbish,' if I was that rubbish, I wouldn't have played 94 games"; watch day four live on Sky Sports Cricket on Saturday from 10.15am

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Jonny Bairstow says he's 'delighted' to be back playing for England since his 'roller-coaster' recovery from a serious leg injury

Jonny Bairstow has labelled criticism he has faced this summer as "tiresome," biting back in an interview with Sky Sports after day three of the fourth Ashes Test.

Bairstow's brilliant 99 runs from 81 deliveries and Mark Wood's three wickets helped England's push for victory as they lead by 162 after day three of the fourth Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

After Zak Crawley laid the groundwork on day two, Bairstow made himself the star of day three as he came heartbreakingly close to a well-earned century - ten fours and four sixes the standout moments from a sublime innings.

The England No 7's place in the side throughout this entire series has been a hot topic of debate, making it a moment for him to savour as he found the explosive form with the bat that made him the face of 'Bazball' in the summer of 2022.

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Watch the best of the action from day three of the fourth Ashes Test

Speaking to Sky Sports afterwards, Bairstow laid bare his frustration, while revealing his leg injury "could have ended my career."

"I'm just pleased to be playing. Everyone thinks I play better when people go at me, and it gets a bit tiresome to be honest with you," he said.

"I've played a lot of cricket now, and to keep being told: 'You're rubbish,' well if I was that rubbish, I wouldn't have played 94 games.

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"I want to go out and enjoy, to entertain. People will have comments on the way I bat, they always have done, and that will carry on, but you can leave them to their comments and I'll keep on doing what I do in the middle.

"They can say what they want. They are paid to have an opinion, that's what they're paid to do. If they don't have an opinion, they don't have a job.

"I've not kept wicket for three years. I've got nine pins, a plate and a wire that goes through my ankle. It's part and parcel of it, I've had nine months out.

"It's not the lack of overs. I'm still just 10 months post operation right now. So when you speak to the surgeon and he says: 'I'm surprised you're walking and running, never mind playing professional sport,' I'm delighted to be where I'm at.

"I'm delighted as to where I am from a physical point of view. It's taken a heck of a lot of graft, it's been a rollercoaster, a lot happened in those nine months, and to take the field again with a group of boys I care a heck of a lot about, is a special place for me to be.

"You don't know how bad it's going to be. It could have ended my career. That's exactly how it could have been."

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Bairstow smashed four huge sixes in a rampant innings against Australia to finish just one shy of a Test century

The 33-year-old added that England will not change their attacking approach under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, and paid tribute to his family or getting him through the last 10 months.

"I don't think the approach has changed throughout the series. It has been questioned at times by you guys [media], but we stuck to our guns all the way through. That's exactly how we've played our cricket, ever since Ben [Stokes] came in charge of the side, and that's what we're sticking by."

Bairstow stonewalled a question about his controversial stumping by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey in the second Test at Lord's, saying only: "There's been a couple of interesting dismissals. It's only a couple of games ago I got 70-odd. It is what it is.

"It's not for a lack of trying. I'm very, very proud every time I walk out and put on an England shirt. I'm a proud guy, it means a lot to me, and to get back and be available for selection for the Ashes, it's something that makes me immensely proud.

"I couldn't have done it without my friends and family, and all the support they've given me throughout the winter.

Jonny Bairstow was the star of day three as England secured a healthy lead of 275
Image: Bairstow was the star of day three, striking a brilliant 99 runs not out from 81 deliveries

"The people that have got you back and are there through thick and thin is exactly what it's about. That dressing room is so solid. We have a special group of players in there, and a group that will fight tooth and nail for each other.

"We'll continue to play as we are, as we know the direction we want to go, and there's a bigger picture with the game of Test cricket."

Hussain: Bairstow had a point to prove on this stage

Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain said...

"I found that interview with Jonny [Bairstow] fascinating. I love cricketers like Jonny Bairstow. He came out here [to this interview] because he's got a point to prove.

"He's read everything, he's listened to everything. It has wound him up. And whatever he says, Bairstow with a point to prove is a very dangerous Jonny Bairstow.

"I reckon that's why they left him out there when Anderson went. I thought: maybe declare, what are you going to gain with Anderson? But Stokes read the situation perfectly: 'I've got a Jonny Bairstow, who's taken a great catch, he's got a point to prove to everyone and this is the stage he wants to do it.'

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Watch all ten wickets fall on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in less than 90 seconds

"He [Bairstow] is absolutely ticking. He's been ticking for weeks and he wanted that innings and that day.

"You can argue what everyone has said, and there's rights and wrongs to it, and he has dropped balls and he hasn't got the runs. But you know with Bairstow, if you wind him up enough, he will go out there like a bull and deliver.

"He was absolutely ticking in that interview."

Sangakkara: He's invaluable to England

Sky Sports' Kumar Sangakarra said...

"Jonny Bairstow today, coming out and doing what he did...we know the capabilities of Jonny Bairstow, he's one of the best all-format batters in the world, but how he made his runs today was a real statement.

"It's also a follow on from the fact he kept really well in this match. For most keepers, who are genuine all-rounders with the bat, they do go hand in hand.

"Bairstow has proved that again today. He's such an invaluable player for England. The way he put the bowlers to the sword, clearing the lines at will, really dampened the Australia spirits."

What to watch on Sky Sports this week

The 151st Open – July 20 to 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports Golf
Fourth Men’s Ashes Test – July 19 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Cricket
Premier League Summer Series – from July 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports Premier League
Hungarian Grand Prix – July 21 to 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports F1
F1 Juniors: Hungarian GP – July 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Mix
World Matchplay Darts – July 17 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action
Women’s World Matchplay Darts – July 22 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action
IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator – July 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action

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