ENGLAND hero Jonny Bairstow admitted the “abuse” he suffered from ex-captain Michael Vaughan inspired his World Cup-saving century.
Bairstow was branded “negative and pathetic” by legend Vaughan after claiming pundits wanted England to lose.
But the opener responded by smashing a brilliant 111 in yesterday’s 31-run Edgbaston win over India – and England will now qualify for the semi-finals if they beat New Zealand at Durham on Wednesday.
The Yorkshireman, 29, beamed: “I’m not saying I want everyone to come out and abuse me!
“But along the way people have questioned technique and conditions and it’s important to recognise different scenarios you can try and play your best in.
“It was a difficult week. To read how my comments were taken was very disappointing. But I was pleased to get over the line with a century in a World Cup.
“Was it my most important? I’d like to think it was definitely up there. With the speculation and the position we found ourselves in, it was really pleasing to relax and play and contribute to what was a brilliant win.”
Bairstow shared a quick-fire 160-run opening stand with Jason Roy, who struck 66 on his return from injury.
Ben Stokes weighed in with 79 as England compiled 337-7 and India were only able to muster 306-5 in return.
‘FIRE IN HIS BELLY’
On Bairstow, skipper Eoin Morgan said: “He does tend to get fired up and that suits him.
“He likes a bit of fire in his belly and I don’t mind that when he comes out and plays like that. He was outstanding. It was a match-winning knock.”
Commentator Vaughan, who initially wound Bairstow up by claiming this could be England’s worst ever World Cup, added: “Jonny let his bat do the talking. He’s better at that.
“He coped brilliantly with the pressure that he had brought on himself in the last few days.”
England were under the cosh coming into Edgbaston after back-to-back defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia.
But now if they beat New Zealand, they could set up a possible re-match with India on this ground.
Bairstow said: “This keeps us in the World Cup and keeps our fate in our own hands.
“It was the closest to a complete performance we’ve had in the competition. But we also know we now have three must-win games.”
Morgan admitted: “The manner in which we played, particularly with the bat, was very encouraging.
“The closer we get to playing our ‘A’-game, the more chance we have of going all the way. If we were scraping along I wouldn’t be as confident.”
Morgan also says there are no further fitness concerns with Roy, who did not field after getting struck when he was batting.
He added: “Jason got hit on the arm but it is just a bruise and should be fine. Having him back in the team is a big confidence-booster for everybody. He’s very intimidating, hard to bowl to and he’s a gun player.”
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This was India’s first defeat of the tournament and captain Virat Kohli bizarrely blamed it on the length of the Edgbaston boundaries.
He said: “The toss was vital – especially looking at the boundary that was quite short.
“I think it was 59 metres which coincidentally is the minimum amount required in an international match. That’s quite bizarre on a flat pitch.
“It’s crazy that things fall in place like that randomly. If batsmen are able to reverse sweep you for six on a 59m boundary there is not much you can do.
“But every team has lost a game here and there. It’s a setback but you have to accept the other side played better.”