Jonny Bairstow was England’s hero as he bludgeoned a record and quite remarkable century to fire them to victory over New Zealand in the second Test at Trent Bridge.
The Yorkshireman hit 14 fours and seven sixes in a staggering ton – a ninth of his Test career – that came up from just 77 balls, just one shy of Gilbert Jessop’s 120-year-old all-time English record.
His 136 proved pivotal as England chased down a Trent Bridge-record target of 299 with five wickets to spare to seal the victory and the series win, a first under new captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
It was, fittingly, the skipper – hero of so many of these occasions in the colours of his country – who was alongside Bairstow at the wicket for a post-tea firework show where 102 runs came from just nine overs to turn the tide in a match that for so long looked wholly in the balance decisively in England’s favour.
Earlier in the day Stuart Broad made the required inroads with the ball before Trent Boult, who became the most prolific Test number 11 in history in the process, added what the Blackcaps thought would be priceless late-order runs in posting 284.
A visibly revitalised Alex Lees started as this new England mean to go on with a positive start even as Zak Crawley once again failed to get a start for the second time in the match.
The match swung even further in New Zealand’s favour after lunch when first innings centurion Ollie Pope and then talisman Joe Root departed in quick succession.
When Lees was also sent back to the pavilion by Tim Southee, England still needed a hugely unlikely 203 more runs to win. What followed proved to be even less believable.
Bairstow alongside Stokes put together a game-changing fifth-wicket stand of 179, turning a nail-biting finale into a cakewalk.