Cricket-England centurion Bairstow revels in just being himself

Cricket - Third Test - England v New Zealand - Yorkshire Cricket Ground, Leeds, Britain - June 24, 2022 England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his century Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

LEEDS (Reuters) - Jonny Bairstow says England’s new desire to play test cricket "different to the norm" gave him the confidence to launch his brutal assault on New Zealand’s bowlers and wrestle back the momentum on the second day of the third test at Headingley.

England were in trouble at 55 for six in reply to New Zealand’s first innings score of 329 before Bairstow and debutant pace bowler Jamie Overton (89 not out) put on an unbeaten seventh wicket stand of 209 in 223 balls.

Their heroics have left the hosts trailing by 65 runs.

Bairstow is unbeaten on 130, his second century in as many innings and the 10th of his test career. He says the new culture of positive cricket in the team has been the catalyst for his superb form.

"I am excited about the journey we are embarking on as a team," Bairstow told Sky Sports. "For Jamie to come in and play the way he did on his debut and under pressure, to have the confidence against a very good New Zealand attack, was quite exceptional.

"We want to play test cricket in a way that is perhaps different to the norm. But it is also a case of putting pressure back on (opponents). If you just sit there, in England you know there is a ball there waiting for you (to get you out). Don’t just be a sitting duck.

"Sometimes it's a simple game that we complicate. We want to allow people to express themselves and that will bring the best out of them."

Bairstow says the backing he has been given by new head coach Brendon McCullum to play his natural attacking game, no matter the match situation, has made him more relaxed at the crease.

"I am pleased with where my game’s at. The way I’m striking the ball," he said. "Sometimes there is a lot of rubbish spoken about different things. Sometimes it gets into your mind and clutters it. You have to listen to the people that matter to you and that’s what I'm doing.

"Brendan just said to me, ‘Go and impose yourself on the game’. It is an exciting way of playing."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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