England v Pakistan, Champions Trophy 2017 semi-final, Cardiff June 13, 2017

Roy may be dropped but he won't be discarded

England's faith in Jason Roy has not paid off in the short term but Jonny Bairstow is well placed to be their one-day supersub once again

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'Bairstow's versatility could be crucial'

Jason Roy cut a lonely figure at England's net session ahead of the Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan, with his ODI career set be stalled as the team face their biggest one-day match since the resurgence began two years ago.

Roy has scored 68 runs in his last nine ODI innings since making 52 against West Indies in Antigua and did not bat on Tuesday, spending most of the session fetching balls from the boundary, for a considerable time stood alongside coach Trevor Bayliss. Eoin Morgan would not offer absolute confirmation at his press conference, but said "we're getting to the business end of the tournament and we need to produce results." Jonny Bairstow is primed to take his position.

There were signs before the final group match against Australia that, with England already qualified, it would be a final chance for Roy when Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, said he saw no need to change the team "before the semi-final". Then, after he had fallen second ball for 4 to Mitchell Starc, Morgan hinted he was wavering, despite previously giving Roy his full backing after the one-day series against South Africa.

"I back all my players," Morgan said in Cardiff. "I see the best in them, and I believe in them a huge amount, and every one of the selectors does, every one of the back room staff does, and the players, obviously. Getting to this stage of the tournament we need results and if that means somebody misses out, it's unfortunate, but for the team's sake, we need to get results. We want to win this tournament. You know collectively as a group we're very good together and we have the support around us to back up any decision that's made."

Bairstow is set to open the batting for the first time in international cricket although he has performed that role for Yorkshire in the Royal London Cup this season, which included making 174 against Durham. In theory it wouldn't have to be Bairstow to open, but any other option - such as promoting Moeen Ali - would involve further tinkering to a settled side.

Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, insisted he wasn't playing mind games when he said his team had been very wary about facing Roy and made mention of the difference between domestic and international level. Bairstow will be tested by a lively Pakistan pace attack, which includes the left-arm pair of Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan alongside the impressive Hasan Ali who has produced some unplayable deliveries in the tournament. He may also be tested by early spin from left-armer Imad Wasim.

"We had a discussion on the bus this morning. I was particularly worried that Roy hadn't fired yet because I think he's very close to something quite good. So if he's not playing, that wouldn't be too bad," Arthur said.

"Bairstow is a great player, and he came off the canvas against us last year [at Headingley]. He wasn't supposed to play a half an hour before the game, got roped in for Buttler, and got Man of the Match. So that was an incredible performance. The only thing I will say, I know that Bairstow has opened at county level, he's never done it internationally, and I think that's a different ball game."

Trevor Bayliss appears set to oversee a change to England's opening pair © Getty Images

For England, it wasn't just Roy's lack of runs but also signs during this tournament that his mindset was struggling. He twice fell trying to manufacture shots - a scoop to short fine-leg against Bangladesh then walking across his stumps to Adam Milne - and made a desperate call for a review when pinned lbw by Starc at Edgbaston.

There is a risk that England have backed themselves into a corner, although their show of faith in Roy was understandable. It does mean that a player who hasn't batted for two weeks will be opening in a knockout match but Roy's returns had become so slim that they will hardly be worse off for runs.

Bairstow's record when being parachuted into the team is also impressive, right back to his debut in Cardiff during the 2011 series against India when he hit an unbeaten 41 off 21 balls to win the match. After that he only played six more matches before having two-and-a-half years out of the side, but has since become England's one-day supersub

In 2015 he produced a series-clinching 83 not out against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street; there was the game mentioned by Arthur last season when he came into the side for the fourth ODI at Headingley and scored 61; on the tour of India early this year he was recalled for the final match of the series and made 56 batting at No.3; this season he made an unbeaten 72 against Ireland at Lord's when England were missing IPL-based players and followed that with 51 against South Africa when England had been 20 for 6.

"I think his best attribute, certainly in white-ball cricket over the last year and a half, has been his relentless attitude to score runs regardless of the situation," Morgan said. "When you have guys sitting on the sideline, they can get a little bit upset, and that can affect their performance when the actual chance comes along, but that doesn't seem to affect Jonny.

"One innings he did play for us which won us a series was against New Zealand and that sort of sums him up. He came from playing in Yorkshire to coming straight into the squad, having played no part in the series, and came in and produced a match-winning knock."

Morgan also had some words of comfort for Roy, with the belief that the group of players he currently has will take the team towards the 2019 World Cup. Roy himself could have a chance to get back on the bike fairly quickly with the T20 matches against South Africa at the end of the month, although that won't match a Champions Trophy semi-final.

"We have kept the same policy for two years now. If somebody does get left out, they're not going to be far from our plans," Morgan said. "They're certainly going to be in the same group of players gearing towards the 2019 World Cup.

"Certainly, in white-ball cricket, we have a group that I don't see us venturing that far out of, maybe three, four more players, towards that World Cup because we need to get experience under the guys' belts."

Wednesday is another stepping stone towards the 2019 World Cup. England have played some breathtaking 50-over cricket over the last two years but nothing will have carried the pressure of a global semi-final. Victory in Cardiff will give them a final for their efforts, but Roy's tournament has ended before the knockouts.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bablu26 on June 14, 2017, 13:00 GMT

    You benched that gem. Let's celebrate the defeat against Pak

  • 3Lions_RIP on June 14, 2017, 7:47 GMT

    England are over compensating on the trust part by giving too many chances compared to earlier times. Bairstow should have been in the side from the NZ game itself. When he flopped so badly against the hapless chokers, the signs were there that he needs a break. He will bounce back. Suddenly we have a slightly unsettled team against the second best bowling attack of the championship.

  • aditya.goel07 on June 14, 2017, 7:39 GMT

    It doesn't matter whether it is Roy or Bairstow or even Strauss. If Md. Amir and Junaid Khan are on song, they can really make even the white ball swing corners. And although I am 100% sure that England will neither prepare a spinning wicket at Cardiff, nor a green one (we all saw what happened in the 3rd ODI against SA at Lords), still, if there is even a hint of swing to be found, Amir & Khan are the guys I'd want to have in my side. So Pakistan, thrash this seriously over-rated English team into submission.

  • Chanachur on June 14, 2017, 6:03 GMT

    Roy is England's lucky charm. His getting out early makes the other batsmen bat with relatively more responsibilities. So, Roy must play.

  • Sen_San on June 14, 2017, 4:48 GMT

    England will win with or without Roy, for sure. If Pak wins the toss, they will elect to chase due to recent victories, by doing so. If England wins the toss, they should opt to bat. Because Pak won against chokers but can't do that against this English side. More so, Pak will self-destruct during chasing. It's a pressure game, big stage, pressure will be multi-fold. Unless weather plays a spoil-sport, I don't see any reason for Pak getting through

  • Jose...P on June 14, 2017, 4:35 GMT

    @Christinjacob95 on June 14, 2017, 3:43 GMT

    Jason Roy is a good player, no doubt.

    But, you are misinformed about the role of Gujarat Lions. They paid good money. They are businessmen. I know them fairly well. And they are no fools to bench a player who can, if in good form, give them a flying start.

    GL did NOT spoil his form even remotely. On the contrary, his lack of form, from the very beginning, was the ONLY cause for GL benching him.. Even after he failed, they kept trying him during the training & found him still lacking.

    From my post at 3:36 GMT, below, you can see, I am an admirer of this boy, Jason Roy. So, it is a not a case of bias on my part, @Christin Jacob, my dear friend.

  • christinjacob95 on June 14, 2017, 3:43 GMT

    IPL Gujrat Lions spoiled his good form. He is good player but needs to take a break & rectify his technical/mental problem & come back stronger...

  • bigfrank on June 14, 2017, 3:42 GMT

    Classic double bluff from England - Arthur and the Pakistan seamers will be spending time working out how to bowl at Bairstow,when Roy will play the semi anyway.Expevt an unchanged England side,Bairstow is there as cover if Buttler gets injured,nothing more.

  • Jose...P on June 14, 2017, 3:36 GMT

    "Benched", "Dropped" or "Discarded"


    For THIS England team as of now, the meaning of the 3 terms above, looks, more or less, the same; the difference confines, just to the length of the 'time-span"; it seems!

    This is the outcome of the fact, they have quite a few good hands, outside the ground, when a chosen XI are playing on it, in any match! Jonny is just one example!

    So, "Just pick & choose any XI, from the 15 or so, but support all; they shall deliver, when the time comes", seems to be the new 'mantra'!

    Propounded by all the three levels, Director, Coach, or the Captain for that matter. Or, to where in the world, you can trace their roots - immaterial!

    After all, the air they breath now is the same air, the English air, and it shows up in every way!


    So, Jason, though you are in the dog-house now, your turn will come up again; it's just a matter of time!


    This entire comment will be "under suspension", if and when ENG face my team, the India team. Come Sunday!

  • jmcilhinney on June 14, 2017, 3:04 GMT

    @cricfan9379789038 on June 14, 2017, 1:13 GMT

    "opening hales with butler"

    Won't happen. Maybe in T20 but Buttler is too good coming in later in ODIs to risk messing with that. They'd open with Moeen, who has done the job previously, before Buttler. Given that Root has been coming in early anyway and doing well, they'd probably consider him before Buttler too. They might even have considered Billings, who has already opened in T20s.

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