The Curious Case of Jason Roy
England’s fantastic run to the ICC Champion’s Cup semi-final was ended by Pakistan on a dismal Thursday afternoon in cricketing terms. As I sat in the car on my way back from the office I heard of England’s batting order collapse yet I now know that Jason Roy had been replaced by Bairstow as an opener. Although Bairstow fared better than Roy had done all series, his 43 was not enough to propel England to a high enough innings total and England were subsequently bowled out for a meagre 211 which Pakistan chased with eight wickets and 12.5 overs to spare.
Since taking over as captain in 2015, Eoin Morgan has been praised for the stability and confidence he has brought to the one-day team. It was as a direct result of Morgan’s patient approach that Jason Roy had been given so many chances to rectify his poor form before being dropped for the semi-final against Pakistan. Roy’s form since the start of the one-day series with South Africa in May has been extremely poor; he has failed to register a total of more than 13, his sole double figure total in the six matches which led to him being dropped.
Roy’s free flowing stroke playing embodies the more adventurous style of the England set up since Morgan seized the captaincy in 2015. He initially showed promise in Australia’s tour of England in 2015, scoring two half centuries in Southampton and Manchester. However, it was 2016 and when faced with Sri Lanka and Pakistan that Roy really shone. In the 2016 calendar year, Roy averaged 44.48 in a year that included each of his three international hundreds and seven of his nine international fifties. However, Roy did not passed fifty in any format between the 5th March and 17th of June, a total of nine innings without a significant contribution. Many had been calling for him to be dropped from the international stage for some time before he was rested against Pakistan.
It is difficult to imagine that Jason Roy will not re-enter the one-day team at some point such is his talent and the positive impetus he can imbue at the top of the order. However in recent months his tendency to get out cheaply in the first few overs of the innings has become far too commonplace. Roy returned to Surrey in time for their One Day Cup semi-final against Worcestershire on the 17th June and their T20 Blast campaign later this summer and it is to be hoped that he regains both his confidence and form whilst at county level. His innings of 92 in Surrey’s convincing victory against Worcestershire in the One-Day Cup semi-final should be of great comfort to Jason Roy as there is no denying he is a talented cricketer. However, Roy’s only concern may be the wealth of competition that he faces to regain his place in the one-day team. There are a number of very capable openers in and around the England set up including the relentless Jonny Bairstow who continues to trouble the selectors for a starting place.
I have watched Jason Roy in person on a number of occasions, both at Old Trafford and Edgbaston playing for Surrey. His power and innovation are particularly endearing features of his play yet he requires more composure and a slice of luck should he become an international icon as well as a crowd favourite at county level. The standard of international cricket means that loose shots and soft dismissals brings much closer scrutiny than in the county game.
Although I write this article in the shadow of a disappointing exit from the Champions Trophy against a Pakistan side which England were strong favourites to beat, the future for England’s one day team appears bright. It is reassuring that there has been no knee-jerk reaction to their exit from the competition as both Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss have both remained in their respective posts and backed the England side to return stronger from this experience in time for the 2019 World Cup. There is also the opportunity for an emerging crop of young cricketers, including Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone and Surrey’s Tom Curran to prove their talents ahead of the next major tournament. The pair debuted for England in their 2nd T20 against South Africa; whilst Livingstone struggled to make an impact with the bat, Tom Curran’s figures of 4-0-33-3 were encouraging for a debutant.
For Jason Roy, England fans will hope that being dropped from the one day side has the same galvanising effect witnessed with Joe Root for England’s Ashes campaign in 2013-14 after which he has become England’s most valuable cricketer and captain. In his first three innings since the Champions Trophy, Roy had encouraging knocks of 92, 28 and 67 but again fell cheaply in the final game of the T20 series against South Africa, scoring just 8. Perhaps there is more to be said for a player than figures alone can suggest, Roy is after all a player who brings positivity and the style of play that Morgan wants to build into his England side. He is in a rut but will become a better player for the experience he has gained. Even though he has suffered poor form recently, I am sure his time will come again.