JONNY BAIRSTOW prepared for the game by lifting team-mate Sam Curran – and flexed his muscles again by hoisting huge sixes.
Bairstow crossed the line eight times in an innings of 90 as England enjoyed a record frenzy in Bristol in their first Twenty20 game against South Africa.
The red-headed Yorkshireman wasn’t alone with England, who searched runs on a perfect pitch on a small ground and were helped by some terrible fieldings from the Proteas.
Moeen Ali plundered England’s fastest-ever Twenty20 half-century with just 16 balls – beating Liam Livingstone’s previous record of 17.
The team total of 20 sixes was another record (overtaking the previous figure of 15) and the 33 runs taken from the 17th Andile Phehlukwayo’s over was the most goal England have ever scored from a single over in any format.
If watching the ball fly into the crowd is your thing, you would have been close to ecstasy.
England won by 41 runs and a win in either Cardiff tomorrow or Southampton on Sunday will give Jos Buttler his first consecutive win since taking over as white-ball captain from Eoin Morgan.
Bairstow was dropped four times – a couple of them real dollies – as South Africa’s field broke apart under the onslaught.
But he didn’t care a bit, happily continuing the form that earned him four hurricane centuries in England’s last three Test games under skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
On Tuesday, Bairstow was pictured at the Bristol gym walking and swinging with the all-rounder curran draped over his shoulders.
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He insisted it had nothing to do with the ice pack that later turned up on his left knee.
Bairstow certainly looked fully functional with a bat in hand and viewers are loving him at the moment. The cheers that greeted his arrival at the wicket and his big hits were the loudest of the day.
Buttler lost his eighth pitch in a trot and there was an immediate indication of South Africa’s efforts on the field when Heinrich Klaasen set up wrong and allowed Buttler’s first ball to go to the limit
Buttler failed a brilliant backtracking catch on a David Miller long-off and the out-of-form Jason Roy struggled again with eight balls from 15.
The acceleration came after Roy was out as Dawid Malan made 43 of 23 deliveries.
But it was Moeen who took England’s total into the stratosphere.
He struck six sixes, all with graceful timing rather than brute force, and his stint in the fourth wicket with Bairstow was 106 runs in just 5.5 overs.
England’s aggregate of 234-6 was second best in T20s – only behind the 241-3 they managed in Napier in 2019 against New Zealand when Malan made a century.
South Africa never looked like they would threaten England’s gargantuan total, but opener Reeza Hendricks hit a quick fifty and 21-year-old Tristan Stubbs contributed 72 in his first international T20 innings.
Stubbs had 20 runs in his single over in England’s innings but he showed he is a potential star of the future.
He hit EIGHT Sixes, including a pair that were the day’s top two.
Amid the carnage, left-arm sailor Reece Topley had another good match, finishing 2-29 from his four overs.
And Chris Jordan conceded just three singles in the 18th minuteth was also crucial.
Moeen Ali scores England’s fastest T20 50 ever and Bairstow hits 90 as South Africa thrashed in Bristol