Jonny Bairstow has told his faltering World Cup team-mates that now is the time to relax and do what comes naturally.
In a week of angst, deep-thinking and soul-searching for English cricket, Bairstow is adamant that England will show what they are made of against India in their next group game on Sunday to stop the rot and get their World Cup campaign back on track.
Three defeats so far means that they must win at Edgbaston to keep their semi-final destiny in their own hands, and Bairstow believes now is the time to hold their nerve.
“We just have to be relaxed,” said the ODI opener. “The more you tense up, then the more you’re going to go into your shell and therefore not play how you’ve been playing.
“So just because we’ve lost games – yes, it’s in a crunch tournament – and people start talking, it’s not going to change the way we go about it.
“Granted, we’ve lost a couple of games, but all of a sudden if you go striving for different things from what have stood you in good stead over a period of time then you’re searching for something that you are probably not going to find the answer to.
“The formula we’ve had has got us to where we have been. If we’d have had those lapses six months ago it wouldn’t have been quite as much of an issue. But we’ve had them at the time we have and we’ve got to bounce back.”
There was a bit of relief for Bairstow as he got to see the impression the tournament was making on the next generation of English cricket fans at a school in Stockwell, south London.
But there is little doubt the siege mentality that often helps teams is starting to grow within the England team as the pressure starts to tell.
fter being criticised by former players, pundits and even the cab driver that took him to the Chance To Shine national cricket week event, Bairstow reckons we should all calm down a touch.
“I chuckled at the taxi driver,” he said. “But of course people are going to say things. They are paid to have an opinion. I was presented with a clip of some of Michael Vaughan’s comments on the radio and I thought, ‘Bloody hell, that’s a bit rich.’
“People were waiting for us to fail. They are not willing us on to win, in many ways. They are waiting for you to get that loss, so they can jump on your throat. It’s a typical English thing to do — in every sport.
“We’re still in the running. Everyone’s talking as if we’re eighth or ninth in the table, it’s like, 'Bloody Nora. Chill out, guys. You’re panicking.'"
The good news for England is that Bairstow's fellow opener Jason Roy is set to be unleashed on the Indians after a hamstring injury that's cost him the last three games even if he isn’t quite 100%, such is his importance to the side.
“Because we’ve done it for a little while now there’s a relaxed confidence with him,” said the Yorkshireman. “The level that we’ve operated at, in different areas against different teams, our strengths complement each other. Hopefully he’s fit.”
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