England’s Jonny Bairstow happy to embrace new role in T20 win against South Africa at Cape Town

England match-winner Jonny Bairstow says he chose to embrace his new role batting at four rather than being ‘disgruntled’ by his move down the order.

Bairstow, who has occupied several batting positions during the course of his international career, has established himself as a white-ball opener in recent years.

But he was asked to go in at four after England decided to open with Jos Buttler in the first T20I against South Africa at Cape Town – and responded with a sparkling 86 not out from 48 balls to lead the tourists to a five-wicket win.

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“You’ve got two choices,” said the Yorkshireman. “You can be disgruntled by it or you can use the experiences you’ve had previously – in Test cricket, in one-day cricket, in T20s, in the IPL, for England – and put it all together in the best way possible.

“I’m really happy with where my game is at the moment. I hope there is a calmness and a composure there and that evidently came across, which is really pleasing.

“Batting in a new position is something you have to enjoy. Having played in different positions, having previously opened the batting or batted at six, I think you learn to craft your innings in different ways.

“That is the thing that has stood me in good stead for batting at four. If it continues, then great, but who knows – different surfaces will change the order.

“We are very flexible in our order and we are very fortunate to have people who can come in and play different innings.”

Bairstow’s performance rescued England from a tricky situation after they slid to 34-3 at Newlands, chasing 180 to beat the Proteas, as he blazed nine fours and four sixes.

He shared a fourth-wicket stand of 85 from 52 deliveries with Ben Stokes (37) before going on to strike the winning blow, a six off Lungi Ngidi, to secure victory with four balls to spare.

England had needed 51 off the last four overs, but Bairstow and skipper Eoin Morgan tipped the momentum firmly in their side’s favour by hammering 28 from the 17th, delivered by seamer Beuran Hendricks.

“It wasn’t a conversation we had to target him, but we felt that was the over we needed to go,” added Bairstow.

“Once the asking rates get to 15 or 16 it’s tough. I didn’t really register that we needed that many.

“We know we have guys who can clear the ropes down the order, but we needed that one big over.”

Watch the second T20 international, in Paarl, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12pm on Sunday.

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