David-Bairstow1

David Leslie Bairstow, born September 1, 1951, was an outstanding Yorkshire wicketkeeper who played four Tests for England. One of the most versatile sportsmen, Bairstow took his own life at an age of 46. Suvajit Mustafi looks at 12 interesting facts about the Yorkshire giant.

1.  A footballer: Bairstow, born in Bradford, was another of those talented sportsmen who excelled in more than one sport. He played football several times for Bradford City Association Football Club.

2.  “Bluey”: Bairstow was easily identified because of his red hair and blue eyes. He earned the nickname Bluey. The name was coined by John Hampshire.

3.  A Yorkshire giant and compliments from Boycott: Bairstow was a Yorkshire mainstay for many years, and also captained them. He embodied the club’s ‘never say die attitude’. Geoffrey Boycott, usually one of the harshest critics, was one over by Bairstow’s attitude. He had once said, “I admire his [Bairstow’s] attitude and I like him as a man. He’s the sort of bloke you would want guarding your back in a dark alley.”

4.  Another fan: this time, Len Hutton: Len Hutton was another big fan of Bairstow. He once said, “I cannot think of anyone who has given me more pleasure in Yorkshire cricket over past 20 years.”

5.  That match at Scarborough: Bairstow’s seven catches against Derbyshire at Scarborough in 1982 remains a Yorkshire record for most catches in an innings. Four more victims in the second innings took his tally to 11 in the Test, another Yorkshire record.

6.  Yorkshire, forever: With 1,034 dismissals, Bairstow ranks third among Yorkshiremen. His 130 stumpings make him fifth. However, his 904 catches remain a Yorkshire record.

7.  England cap: There was plenty competition for the wicketkeeper’s spot in the England side with Allan Knott and Bob Taylor. Bairstow first played for England in a One-Day International (ODI) against Australia in Melbourne in January 1979. Later that year, he made his Test debut against India at The Oval. He went on to play 21 ODIs and four Tests for England.

8.  Gail Storm: He had two marriages, the first with Gail whom he nicknamed “Stormy”. Ironically, that word went on to be used to describe their relationship. They had a son called Andy. The marriage ended in a divorce and he remarried Janet, later mother of Rebecca and Jonny.

9.  The weirdest accident ever? Not a regular shaver, Bairstow faced a slight problem en route to Australia in 1978-79 when manager Ken Barrington insisted on a well-groomed team. Bairstow managed to cut himself while using an electric result (how on earth?).

10.  Business and Radio: Post retirement, Bairstow became a popular radio commentator and also worked at a sports merchandising business. It seemed that he was succeeding in his business ventures.  (Trueman was his colleague), but it was never the same. The void caused by his retirement from the sport was never filled. Life seemed incomplete to him.

11.  Compounding problems leading to death: In the late 1990s David Bairstow suffered from depression. It started with Janet’s illness. He had a heated confrontation with Yorkshire cricket officials. There were problems, both financial and injury-related. What added to it was a drink-driving charge. Depressed, Bairstow committed suicide by hanging himself.

12.  Like father, like sons: Both David’s sons were wicketkeeper-batsmen. Andy played for Derbyshire, but Jonny went on to be more popular with the skills. Currently one of England’s best cricketers, Jonny was recently a part of the side’s Ashes winning side.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)