England dominance day three, Jonny Bairstow, 99, century, wicketkeeper, Zak Crawley, news, scorecard, highlights

English keeper Jonny Bairstow has hit back at “tiresome” criticism of his form after a blistering knock of 99* runs from 81 balls to put the tourists to the sword.

Australia will be praying for Manchester rain this weekend, with the hosts posting a mammoth 592 in the first innings despite Josh Hazlewood’s five-wicket haul.

Pat Cummins’ side got off to a horror start in their second innings, losing four wickets giving England a huge chance to equal the series if rain stays away.

MATCH CENTRE: England vs Australia Old Trafford Ashes Test scorecard

But for Bairstow, his impressive effort will silence the critics of his position in the team after being stranded on 99*, running out of partners.

The 33-year-old’s wicketkeeping skills have come under the microscope in the 2023 Ashes series, while his batting also left much to be desired.

Bairstow belted ten fours and four sixes to come desperately close to his 13th Test century before hitting back at loud criticism of his place in England’s outfit.

“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,” Bairstow said to Sky Sports.

“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.

“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.”

Bairstow also explained he is still no fully fit after a horror golf incident late last year which saw his leg break in three places.

“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,” Bairstow said.

“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.

Watch every game of the Major League Cricket Season LIVE on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Crawley century sees England take charge | 04:23

“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.”

He also touched on the now-infamous Alex Carey stumping which sparked debate and outrage worldwide.

“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,” Bairstow said.

“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.

“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.”

#England #dominance #day #Jonny #Bairstow #century #wicketkeeper #Zak #Crawley #news #scorecard #highlights