Jonny Bairstow’s rapid century joins list of great fourth-innings contributions


Jonny Bairstow produced one of the great fourth-innings knocks to guide England to a memorable series-winning victory over New Zealand in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

The Yorkshire batter smashed 136 runs from just 92 balls with 14 fours and seven sixes to take the game away from the Kiwis in a thrilling final-session attack on the last day.

Bairstow’s brutal effort was the second-fastest Test century by an England player in terms of balls faced, just short of breaking a 120-year-old record. Bairstow reached three figures from 77 balls, one delivery slower than Gilbert Jessop against Australia in 1902.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some other great fourth-innings performances.

Ben Stokes, 135 not out (v Australia, August 2019)

Ben Stokes stunned Australia at Headingley (Mike Egerton/PA)

(PA Archive)

Stokes single-handedly kept an Ashes series alive three years ago with a memorable, career-defining performance at Headingley. In one of the greatest innings ever played by an Englishman, Stokes held his nerve under intense pressure to steer his side to an unlikely one-wicket win. England still needed 73 when Stokes was joined by last-man Jack Leach and defeat seemed inevitable. Yet he refused to throw in the towel and launched an astonishing counter-attack. With Leach holding firm at the other end – although he survived a scare when Nathan Lyon dramatically fumbled a run-out chance – England made it home against a shellshocked Australia.

With his captaincy on the line and facing one of the all-time great bowling attacks in Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, the flamboyant left-hander delivered a virtuoso display. Set 308 in Bridgetown, the Windies were teetering on 91 for four and then 105 for five, and even Lara’s defiance looked to be in vain when they later lurched to 248 for eight. But Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh hung around long enough for Lara, whose innings included 19 fours and a six, to get the Windies home.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, 138 not out (v Bangladesh, September 2003)

Inzamam-ul-Haq defied Bangladesh (PA Archive)

(PA Archive)

Test newcomers Bangladesh had their sights trained on a historic first victory in Multan after reducing Pakistan to 132 for six in pursuit of 261. Inzamam had other ideas, though, protecting the strike as partners came and went in a 232-ball innings containing 20 fours and one six. He almost made himself the object of vilification after running out Umal Gul with four still required to expose last man Yasir Ali but was able to hold his nerve as Bangladesh were edged out by one wicket.

Ricky Ponting, 118 not out (v Bangladesh, April 2006)

Ricky Ponting was a fine performer under pressure (PA Archive)

(PA Archive)

Having only secured a first-ever Test win a year earlier, the Tigers were daring to dream when they set an Australia side containing several giants of the game 307 for victory in Fatullah. The tourists seemed to be sailing on 173 for one as Matthew Hayden (72) and Ponting combined for a century stand but they then wobbled to 277 for seven. The one batsman who was irremovable though was the Australia captain, who shepherded his side to a three-wicket win thanks to a bravura innings containing 13 fours.

Kusal Perera, 153 not out (v South Africa, February 2019)

Stokes’ heroic effort was not the only brilliant fourth-innings knock that year. Like the England all-rounder, Perera was faced with seemingly insurmountable odds when Sri Lanka were reduced to 226 for nine in pursuit of 304 in Durban but he rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion. His innings contained 12 fours and five sixes while he took the lion’s share of the strike for his union alongside Vishwa Fernando, contributing 67 towards the highest last-wicket partnership of a successful fourth-innings chase.

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