Jonny Bairstow says victories like England’s first-Test win over Sri Lanka reward for ‘tough’ bubble life

Jonny Bairstow says victories like England’s seven-wicket success over Sri Lanka in Galle are reward for the difficulties of bubble life.

Bairstow (35no) shared an unbroken 62-run partnership with debutant Dan Lawrence (21no) to usher England to their victory target of 74 after the tourists had been reduced to 14-3 on day four.

The batsman – recalled to play his first Test in over a year – admitted to finding living in bisoecure bubbles tough when he spoke in the immediate aftermath of England’s win in the series opener.

  • England beat Sri Lanka in first Test
  • Scorecard from Galle

England’s triumph earned them a fourth straight Test match win overseas – following three in South Africa last winter – making it the first time they have achieved that feat since 1956-57.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. Wins like this make it even more special when you are away from home so much,” said Bairstow, who also chipped in with 47 in England’s first innings total of 421.

“[Bubble life] is tough, I am not going to lie about it. It takes its toll. You are going from a hotel to the cricket ground and back to the hotel.

“I was happy that the Christmas break came around as I think I had had about six nights at home since the beginning of August.

“Guys are not able to see the families, kids, wives, girlfriends over long periods of times, which is tricky.

“The people back home who have been with you through thick and thein are the ones you are calling and Skype chatting with to keep you going.

“I know the time difference back home makes things tricky but we thank [all the fans] for their support. It is hugely appreciated. Hopefully they are enjoying all the hard work we are putting in.”

Bairstow and Lawrence joined forces late on day four with England three wickets down and requiring another 60 runs on a pitch that was showing dramatic turn and they still needed 36 heading into day five.

The 31-year-old revealed how his plan was to remain positive, rely on strong footwork and run hard to ensure England did not give Sri Lanka any significant hopes of a stunning victory.

“It was pretty tough. I think we saw when we batted on day four that a lot more balls seemed to be raising off a length, so it was tricky,” said Bairstow.

“It was about being precise in your movements – it was bouncing so it was about trying to play off the back foot as much as possible.

“We needed 36 runs, that was the be all and end all of it. It doesn’t matter how you get there, you just need to score the runs.

“On a pitch like that if you are not proactive and looking to score in your areas then I think there is going to be a good ball coming your way.

“That was the mindset – go out and be busy. Running between the wickets is a huge part, especially here with the outfield being slower, so it was about making sure we pressed them in the field.

“It’s difficult when you come to the subcontinent. You know the challenges you are going to have, so to get a win on the board in the first game with a pretty short lead-up is pleasing.”

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Bairstow lauded captain Joe Root for his double hundred and spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess for their five-wicket hauls but also praised the tireless efforts of England’s seam bowlers – Sam Curran, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood – during hot conditions in Galle.

Bairstow added: “A huge amount of credit has to go to our fast bowlers, they properly toiled away. Someone like Woody, the hard toil he has put in really made people uncomfortable and probably put [Sri Lanka’s batsmen] on the backfoot to try and exploit other options at the other end.”

Watch day one of the second and final Test between Sri Lanka and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Friday.

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