Author: Alan Birkinshaw
It has never been easy for county players to make a big impact on the Bradford League scene due to their limited availability, but David Bairstow was one who did.
The Yorkshire and England wicketkeeper-batsman always loved returning to his cricketing roots and played with the fiery determination which made him such a favourite with county and Bradford League followers.
Apart from one season apiece with Laisterdyke and Bowling Old Lane at either end of his career, the bulk of his 4,465 runs came for his beloved Undercliffe.
And it worth noting that his career average of 39.51 has only been bettered among the league’s leading run scorers by current players Gary Fellows (Hanging Heaton) 42.54, Mark Robertshaw (Pudsey St Lawrence) 40.39 and Richard Robinson (Keighley) 40.27.
Even his son Andrew, who scored 11,638 Bradford League runs, fell well short of his dad with an average of 29.61.
Bluey was a thrilling batsman to watch who loved to attack and those are traits which are easily identifiable in his two sons, Andrew and Jonny.
Andrew was a key member of the Pudsey Congs side that dominated the Bradford League scene between 2000 and 2004. Few who saw it will forget his brilliant 121 in the 2008 Priestley Cup final win over Woodlands.
Jonny needs no introduction. One of the world’s outstanding one-day batsmen, he was a key figure in England’s World Cup winning team of 2019.
Although currently out of the England side, few will forget his emotional tribute the Yorkshire star paid his late father when he looked to the heavens as he celebrated his maiden Test century against South Africa in Cape Town.
David’s never-say-die spirit was evident from an early age. He made his Bradford League bow as a 15-year-old in 1967 with Laisterdyke.
The following year he joined Undercliffe for what proved to be a 25-year association. His initial campaign saw him score 18 runs in five innings, but it was in 1969 he made his big breakthrough.
He scored an unbeaten 106, his first Bradford League century, and went on to score 259 runs at the healthy average of 32.37.
Although still a pupil at Hanson School where he was taught by the former Bradford League umpire Derek Shuttleworth, his performances were being monitored by Yorkshire.
On June 3, 1970, David took an A Level at 6am in the morning so that he could make his Yorkshire debut in the County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Park Avenue.
It was the first of 459 First Class games for Bairstow in career which saw him score 13,961 runs with a highest score of 145. He took 961 catches and 138 stumpings and played four Test for England.
The 1970 season was a big one for David. As well as breaking into the Yorkshire side, his 238 runs at an average of 39.67 included an unbeaten century and helped Undercliffe win the Division One title.
His appearances for Undercliffe were spasmodic during the seventies as his county career took off. Despite this he still chipped in with another century on a rare outing in 1979.
His highest Bradford League score of 168 not out came in the 1990 season, his last in First Class cricket.
Between 1990 and 1993 he was to enjoy his most productive seasons scoring a total of 2,345 runs with a highest score of 150 not out. He averaged 41.14 for those years. Despite his prowess behind the stumps. he let others wear the gloves throughout his Bradford League career as he concentrated solely on his batting.
The curtain came down on his playing career at Bowling Old Lane in 1994. He was a cricketing warrior who wore his heart on his sleeve and will always be remembered as proud Bradfordian who made Bradfordians proud.
|DAVID BAIRSTOW'S BRADFORD LEAGUE CAREER RECORD|
|1994||Bowling Old Lane||2||8||0||74||280||35.00|