Duo in display of class
Man-of-the-match Jonny Bairstow and 10-wicket hero James Anderson both proved their class is permanent as England trounced Sri Lanka in the first Test at Headingley.
Bairstow continued his outstanding form with the bat, by underpinning England’s 298 with his second Test century – the first on his home ground, and in his home country – and added nine catches behind the wicket.
Evergreen Anderson enhanced his reputation yet again with match figures of 10 for 45 as Sri Lanka were bowled out twice in the space of 72 overs – for 91, and then 119 following on, to lose by an innings and 88 runs inside three days.
England’s leading Test wicket-taker went up to sixth in the world’s all-time list, excelling at a ground where he curiously has not in the past and proving his well-being at the age of 33 after a marginally lacklustre tour of South Africa last winter.
For Bairstow, a compelling performance both in front and behind the stumps was further vindication of his position, having returned to the Test team only last summer, initially as a specialist batsman, after an 18-month absence.
Captain Alastair Cook had glowing praise for both, and voiced his delight that Bairstow is proving his own initial judgment correct –after being convinced the Yorkshireman would play for his country from the very first time he saw him bat back in 2010.
“Jonny was playing on a different wicket to the other 21 guys – it was an extraordinary innings,” he said of his 140 at Headingley.
“The bowlers, you don’t want to take it for granted – but you knew with those two, the skill they have got, it would be really hard work for Sri Lanka.”
Bairstow first restated his case for England with a match-winning and series-clinching 83 not out in a one-day international against New Zealand last June.
Cook added: “Ever since that ODI innings at Durham, he realised he can play international cricket and be the talent we all knew he could be.
“I remember the first time I saw him play, at Scarborough, he played differently to everyone else – we couldn’t stop him scoring. I thought he’d play for England, the first time I saw him.”
Anderson was unstoppable in both innings, having benefited from a change of ends after more than a decade of relative previous mediocrity at this venue.
“Everyone was not exactly writing him off in South Africa – but it was great to see Jimmy back to his best,” said Cook.
“He’s got a few more wickets left in him.”
England will head to Durham for the second Test, starting on Friday, with Cook still needing 20 more runs to become the first from this country to reach 10,000 in Tests.
They may well be without Ben Stokes on his home ground, though – the all-rounder set for scans on his knee injury on Sunday.