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Ryan Bailey at The Oval
July 2, 2014
Surrey 156 for 2 (Roy 79) beat Kent 155 for 4 (Stevens 56*, Cowdrey 55) by eight wickets
Twelve months ago, Jason Roy's career was in danger of going stale. Now, the case for his inclusion in the England limited-overs side is reaching persuasive levels on the back of a sixth half-century in eight NatWest T20 outings; at one point during this, another dazzling innings, he was even trending on Twitter.
The social media universe has had its say but Roy is letting his actions do the talking, and how. In this form, there is expectancy, each time he walks to the middle, that fireworks will follow and he is doing little to disappoint his swelling fanbase. Even Kevin Pietersen weighed into the debate by daring the England selectors to enjoy an evening at The Oval - if they took his advice they would surely have left duly impressed.
Indeed, Surrey would save themselves a lot of trouble by merging these last three T20 games into one highlights package for their end of season DVD. For there is an element of deja vu in watching Roy stand eloquently still at the crease, wind-up akin to a golfer teeing-off and then club, swat and launch the bowlers to all parts and beyond.
For all of Roy's outstanding belligerence, Kent obeyed the script and offered him the fodder he thrives upon, although every delivery was being deposited regardless. Even luck was on his side - he was dropped twice, one straightforward chance for Adam Ball in his follow through and three more were shelled in the crowd. But he deserved all the fortune he can get at the minute.
Should he manage to convince the selectors he is worthy of a place in English apparel, it is improbable he will be afforded such handouts. Kent were on the back foot from the moment Roy danced down the pitch, first ball of the innings, to bludgeon Adam Riley into the pavilion.
"It's a huge dream of mine but there is a lot of hard work to be done yet," he stressed when asked about his international aspirations. He is certainly doing plenty of the groundwork. Twelve more boundaries followed on his way to 79 off 46 balls as he showcased his ability to hit all around the ground; powerful drives, elegant flicks, disdainful blows and crunching pulls were all unveiled.
By the time he finally succumbed to Riley, the game was over. The fact that a player of the calibre of Tillakaratne Dilshan has played subordinate in the two games since his arrival underlines Roy's exploits; Surrey may have to reprint the promotional posters around south Kennington.
At the moment, it does not seem to matter what total the opposition manage to post. "We were twenty runs short but it you won't defend anything against Roy," Darren Stevens said.
At the halfway mark, the visitors would have been content with their effort. Their innings was held together by Stevens and young Fabian Cowdrey, who both scored fifties of their own.
Cowdrey has quite the repute to live up to. Born into, perhaps the most famous of cricketing families, there is a burdensome expectation that he will follow in their footsteps; the cynics may even argue that a career has been laid on a plate for him by virtue of the name gracing the back of his shirt.
Certainly, he has cards stacked in his favour but that is no guarantee of success - something which Roy could certainly resonate with hitherto. In the absence of Rob Key, the Kent captain, through a hamstring injury, Cowdrey played a mature innings to keep his side afloat when there was a significant threat of submersion.
However, even in the field, Roy cannot be kept away from the action. Patrolling the boundary at long-on, he nonchalantly plucked out Sam Northeast's towering club down the ground before flicking the ball back into play as he danced around the boundary cushions.
Surrey's game plan is clear. On another dusty Oval surface, Gary Wilson had no hesitation in fielding first - the fact that the team chasing have won the last nine domestic T20 games at the ground may also have been a factor - but having suffocated both Sussex and Hampshire with similar astute tactics - rotating bowlers frequently and the battery of spinners operating in tandem - there was little danger of a change in approach here.
Yet, when the opposition duly follow suit, it proved a futile exercise. No strategy can thwart Roy at the minute.
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