Bairstow Mirrors Stokes Brilliance As Aussies Regret Tactical Errors Once More

Bairstow in action during the Old Trafford Test

As the ghosts of the Headingley catastrophe from 2019 still linger, Australia is yet again forced to reflect on their approach in the aftermath of the recent Old Trafford Test. Pat Cummins’ debut as captain draws parallels with Usman Khawaja’s pre-tour predictions that now seem uncannily prophetic.

Bairstow in action during the Old Trafford Test
Jonny Bairstow, scoring a commanding 99no during the Old Trafford Test against Australia

Many considered Ben Stokes’ game-changing performance at Headingley to be an isolated incident of brilliance. Yet Khawaja envisioned a similar ordeal for Pat Cummins, a situation which Tim Paine, his predecessor, found challenging four years prior.

“We probably didn’t put enough pressure on ‘Stokesy’ during the third, fourth ball [of overs],” admitted Khawaja, during a interview in the lead-up to the ongoing Ashes series, referring to Stokes’ performance, now hailed as one of the greatest in Test history. “We could have been a bit more offensive; that’s a lesson learned for the future, and probably something Pat will have to confront.”

True to Khawaja’s foresight, Cummins has already faced the formidable power of Stokes during his early tenure as captain. Stokes’ transition from a potent middle-order batter to an unstoppable force of nature left a significant impact at Lord’s and a potential series-changing 80-run inning at Headingley.

Cummins’ trust in the young spinner Todd Murphy paid dividends at Headingley with three chances created against the England skipper, eventually leading to his dismissal. Yet, on Friday at Old Trafford, the Aussies seemed to have forgotten Khawaja’s warning and the lessons from their past experiences.

As Australia held on to a fragile lead in the fourth Test, their hopes of a comeback victory were abruptly shattered by the phenomenal Jonny Bairstow. The redhead emulated Stokes’ magic and transformed England’s strong position into a potential match-winning one.

With the fall of Bairstow’s last top-order teammate, England was already leading by 158 runs. But Bairstow, relentless, guided England to an insurmountable first-innings lead of 275 runs. His unbeaten 99 stood as a testament to his dominance, rekindling the torment Australia experienced at Headingley and casting a cloud over their Ashes triumph hopes.

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