Bairstow, who made a comeback in the drawn first Test against India, scored his first half-century in almost two years, as he along with captain Joe Root (180 not out) took England to 391 all out, giving them a slender 27-run lead with two days left in the second match.
“You want to be playing, and if you’re playing and scoring runs you will be in the side,” Bairstow, who got his previous half century (52), also at Lord’s in the 2019 Ashes, said after the end of day three’s play.
Bairstow’s batting position has constantly been fiddled with, so also his wicket-keeping role. The white-ball specialist has also struggled to find a place in the team in the past.
In the Sri Lanka series earlier this year, Bairstow relished batting at No. 3, but three ducks in four innings in two Tests in Ahmedabad meant he had to wait for his chances again.
“I think it depends on how the balance of the side works. There are different balances and different looks we can go for. You have got to be mindful of that naturally,” the 31-year-old said.
“But first and foremost, I want to remain in the mindset I’m in, remain with the method and technique I’ve implemented, hopefully continue to score runs and be out there for longer periods of time.”
Bairstow could not convert his half century into a big score and got unsettled by a barrage of short-pitched deliveries from Mohammed Siraj.
Blaming it on the two-paced pitch, he said: “I’d have liked to have gone on, but it was one of those things. The pitch is slightly two-paced, a few flying through to the keeper and a few that were dying.
“When you’re trying to duck and weave, it can get tricky. It caught the glove today,” said Bairstow, who mis-timed his pull shot to be caught by Virat Kohli at slip.
“On another day it might have gone over the slip cordon, or you might get a bottom edge for one. But if they’re going short, then that means you’re doing something right with your defence.”
Bairstow’s 121-run partnership with Root ensured that England got past India’s first innings total despite the shaky start. He was effusive in his praise for his Yorkshire teammate Root.
“To see him in the form that he is, playing the way he is, it’s awesome,” he said of Root, who scored his 22nd century.
At 30 years and 227 days, Root became the second youngest player after Alastair Cook to score 9,000 Test runs.
Root, on day two, got past Graham Gooch’s tally of 8,900 Test runs to move into second spot on the England all-time list behind Cook (12,472).
“Having batted with each over many years, you get a gauge of each other’s temperament. You bounce off one another, and we enjoyed every single moment.
“It’s been about having fun, enjoying the challenge, playing with a smile. We’ve scored nearly 400 today, and you can see the way in which we’re going about it, smiling and laughing, keeping that relaxed but focused attitude.”
Asked what Root meant to the England team, Bairstow said: “A heck of a lot, like he does to English cricket.
“To go into second place among leading run-scorers in the history of English game is very special, to pass 9,000 Test runs is extremely special, to score another 180 not out at Lord’s… I’ve run out of superlatives, to be honest.”
He was also excited to see a capacity crowd at Lord’s on Saturday.
“To have a full crowd, with our family and friends here, was really special. The Lord’s buzz was definitely back,” he signed off.