Jonny Bairstow nearly scored a century on his return to action from injury

Jonny Bairstow dropped three times under a century in his first outing in nearly eight months, picking up where he left off last summer as he rides a comeback with Yorkshire’s second team.

Bairstow scored 97 in just 88 deliveries against second-string Nottinghamshire, with 13 boundaries and two sixes, before beating fellow England international Olly Stone to cover with a hundred in sight.

The 33-year-old hasn’t played since a freak golfing accident last September left him with three separate fractures to his left leg, as well as a dislocated ankle and ligament damage, but he has now taken a major step in what has been a long and tiring recovery.

Bairstow was in the midst of a career-best run of form when he was injured, taking a leading role in England’s Test revival with four hundred from five innings, and was back between runs in the first day at Headingley.

Even accounting for some rust marks in the ring, he was a step above the standard of most of the visiting bout and only found himself really tense when going butt with Stone.

Like Bairstow, the former Warwickshire fast has plans for a role in the next series of Ashes, and was unfortunate to drop Bairstow to 21. His third delivery to Bairstow flew off the outside edge at shoulder height and should have been taken on the second mistake. , only for Calvin Harrison to save a chance for four.

Stone, watched from the sidelines by England and Wales’ elite bowling coach Neil Killeen, was clocked at nearly 90mph in his home dressing room and was in scene-stealing form on an occasion that otherwise belonged to a man. He started by taking one for seven in a five-over flurry off the new ball, hassled Bairstow in a second fighting spell and removed him with the first ball from his third.

Yorkshire manager Tom Smith admitted his side’s star attraction succumbed to a few butterflies ahead of his first appearance in 241 days, but was pleased to see him again soon enough.

“He was a little nervous this morning, it was like his debut again,” Smith said.

Bairstow strikes with a brisk knock at Headingley.

Bairstow strikes a lively shot at Headingley (Danny Lawson / PA)

“He had a little chat with the guys this morning and it was quite fun – he said ‘just watch him run’. But the first run of him was a single sprint and we had a chuckle.

“He was dying to go out and play cricket after so much free time. He was gutted to get out no matter what form of cricket he was gutted to get out of but he was happy with how it went. Running out there in the middle, he was broken.

“You can have all the goals you want, but when you really go out and take on bowlers like Olly Stone, it’s going to test you. It was a good challenge.”

Bairstow’s appearance at number four down the order has further detracted from any fanciful notion that he could make his England comeback as a revived opener, although he is scheduled to share wicketkeeping duties with Harry Duke for the remainder of this match and that. option may prove more attractive.

Olly Stone had the upper hand in his personal battle with Bairstow.

Olly Stone prevailed in his personal battle with Bairstow (John Walton/PA)

He came to the crease in the 25th at 109 for two, facing eight deliveries before lunchtime and then snapping a 47-ball half-century in the afternoon.

His attacking repertoire got spirited training, with plenty of third man steers, a couple of mid-wicket twists and an expertly timed drive. Not everything was fully controlled, with an advantage through the empty sliding cordon and a just safely landed Wayward chip on Toby Pettman adding to his respite on Stone.

But for the most part he was in the lead, not least when he bowled Harrison’s leg spin for two big sixes into the stands. A hundred first time seemed inevitable after that, but Stone’s return did the trick as Bairstow singled for receiver as he aimed for the ropes in cover.

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