Jonny Bairstow said he was in “a good place” after atoning for one of the low points of his Test career with a century against Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
Four years ago Bairstow was dismissed for 95 against South Africa at the same ground, narrowly missing out on a maiden international century and a place on the honours board.
A dip in form, both with bat and gloves, followed for the wicketkeeper-batsman, who had to wait until January of this year for his first Test ton.
Having been dropped on 11, Bairstow went on to dominate the Sri Lanka attack and finished yesterday unbeaten on 107 in a total of 279 for six.
“It feels like it should have happened a few years ago to be honest with you,” Bairstow said.
“The South Africa game here, coming five short, it was something that I really wanted to do because I felt like I should have done it that day.
“A few years on now and I’ve been able to do it. Looking back it’s been a tough four years but we’re on the board.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be here at Lord’s and score a hundred – it’s something every boy dreams of so it was a really special moment and you could see I was pretty emotional.
“On 95 I was thinking please just bowl me a half-volley to get to 96.”
After missing out against South Africa four years ago, Bairstow endured a torrid series in Australia – although he was not the only one as England lost the Ashes 5-0 – and then spent a spell in the Test wilderness before dislodging Jos Buttler last summer.
Asked what had changed in his game to allow him to become such a prolific run-scorer for first Yorkshire and then England, he added: “I was over-analysing things, I was getting far too technical with a lot of things then and now it’s a case of just stand relaxed at the crease and watch the ball.
“It’s been a journey, don’t get me wrong. I’ve gone away and I’ve worked on things.
“The Australia trip when we lost 5-0 – I went straight to Sri Lanka and played with the Lions. That was a horrible place to be in.
“I was able to have a bit of time off after that and that was the time I re-evaluated; I look back to that point being a blessing in disguise.
“I’m in a good place, I’m enjoying my cricket.
“Hopefully people are enjoying watching my cricket.”
Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath felt his side were still well placed to claim a consolation victory, having already fallen 2-0 down in the series, despite letting England off the hook from 84 for four.
“We have done well,” said Herath, who took two for 45. “Unfortunately we dropped one chance and it cost a lot.”