Niall O’Brien: Bairstow can bash a big score against Bangladesh

England have won one and lost one going into Saturday's showdown with Bangladesh, and Niall says one of their big hitters could show up in Cardiff


No one would’ve been surprised by Pakistan’s strong comeback after losing their first game, but many were by England’s sloppy performance. There were dropped catches, overthrows, misfields. You’re not used to seeing that from England.

I’d give a lot of credit to Pakistan though, I thought they were excellent bouncing back as they were well and truly hammered against the West Indies at the same venue.

For England, after such a good win over South Africa, it was surprising they dropped this one, but this World Cup is going to throw up a lot of surprises and close encounters.
It keeps things nice and open in the group stage and shows you can’t walk into any game and think you’re nailed on for the points.

But the general consensus is that six wins will get you to the semi-finals. The better teams should clock up enough wins. After all, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, they’re not going to win many games. That should be a couple in the bank. If you have a bad day at the office once or twice, or you lose a game to rain, you should be okay.

This is a small blip in England’s journey. They played Pakistan in the series before this and they hammered them. But it would be interesting to see how the pressure seeps into the team from outside – from fans and playing in your own back yard – if they lose another early game.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 30: Eoin Morgan of England returns to the pavilion after being caught by Aiden Markram of South Africa of the bowling of Imran Tahir during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England v South Africa at The Oval on May 30, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

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Watch the Tigers’ claws

That means they need to be on their guard versus Bangladesh on Saturday. I don’t think they will take them lightly, but they really need to keep doing the simple things well.

Obviously, England are strong favourites, but Bangladesh have been excellent so far. They won their first game comfortably against South Africa – it took a lot of people by surprise, though not me as they looked a very good side in Dublin. They could’ve, and probably should’ve, beaten New Zealand at the Oval too. There was a sense of a missed opportunity there.

They have four or five real matchwinners in their side.

Shakib Al Hasan has had a wonderful start with bat and ball. Tamim Iqbal hasn’t fired yet either and he’s one of their best batsmen, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his campaign up and running at Cardiff on Saturday.

But England have worked too hard since the last World Cup to earn the favourites tag. There’ll be no complacency from them.
The wicket can turn at Cardiff. They’ve gotten a slap on the wrist for green wickets so I’d be very surprised if this one is too. It might just suit Bangladesh’s style with a bit of spin on offer for Shakib and Mehidy Hasan.

I can’t see England running away with it and if the Tigers can start well we could be in for a great game.

2nd One Day International, Lord’s Cricket Ground, London 7/05/2017
England vs Ireland
England’s Jonny Bairstow cuts for 4 runs
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

Root’s been brilliant, but Bairstow can hit his stride

England nearly got over the line anyway against Pakistan thanks to Joe Root and Jos Buttler. They were brilliant.

Root is my favourite to be top runscorer at the tournament. I like him over the Smiths, Warners, and Buttlers is because he goes about his business very quietly, he’s very unassuming, but he regularly clocks up the runs on the scoreboard.

He’s already started brilliantly. He got 51 against South Africa and then the century against Pakistan. I fancy him to have a really strong tournament. England are favourites to win it, so they’re likely to play the most matches, and that means an Englishman has a great chance of being topscorer.

Rarely would you get three big scores in a row in one-day internationals though. Root’s run would probably make you look elsewhere for a topscorer in the match.

Jonny Bairstow hasn’t quite hit the heights yet. He’ll be hungry and success breeds success. The likes of Bairstow and Jason Roy are seeing their teammates getting scores. I’d be tempted by

Jonny Bairstow to get the big score for England on Saturday at 7/2. He’s a very competitive guy and very talented, so he’ll want to get up and running at the World Cup.

Niall’s pick of the punts: Jonny Bairstow top runscorer versus Bangladesh @ 7/2

England are going for 1966 all out at the Cricket World Cup

What do you think?