England in South Africa 2015-16 January 27, 2016

Roy looks to get on a roll in South Africa


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Watch - Roy brings up his maiden ODI fifty

Jason Roy says that the major aim of England's one-day tour of South Africa will be to maintain the confidence that has been surging through their white-ball cricket in recent months, as they build towards the World Twenty20 in India in March.

Roy, who scored his maiden ODI hundred at Dubai in the final match of England's 3-1 series win against Pakistan in November, has cemented his role at the top of the order in both 50- and 20-over cricket, forging an aggressive and productive opening partnership with Alex Hales.

However, Roy concedes that the conditions that England will face in South Africa, where they play five ODIs and two T20s, starting at Bloemfontein on Wednesday, will be quite unlike anything that will be on offer in Mumbai and Delhi, the venues for England's group stage fixtures in the World T20.

The onus, he says, will be on maintaining the winning habit that England have instilled in their limited-overs cricket, ever since their ignominious exit from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this time last year.

"We've got an honest squad, a healthy squad and a squad that works harder than I've ever seen people work," Roy told ESPNcricinfo during an event for Slazenger Cricket. "We enjoy each other's company which helps, we know each other's games and we are brutally honest, so I think that's a huge positive for the England dressing room at the moment."

England have won two out of the three completed ODI series since the World Cup, against New Zealand and Pakistan, and five out of five T20s, with the most recent, against Pakistan in Sharjah, being settled on a Super Over after the scores finished level in normal time.

"What this series will help us do is build our confidence before we go out there," he added. "Because that is what will help us compete. In Twenty20, for me, it's 90% about confidence. As an opening batsman, if you are going out there low on confidence you are nowhere. You are no use to anyone."

With that in mind, Roy starts the tour in an ideal frame of mind, following his match-defining 102 in Dubai before Christmas.

It was, by his usual standards, a relatively hard-working innings - he took 64 balls to reach his first fifty, and 117 balls all told, setting the stage for Jos Buttler to round the tour off in explosive fashion with an England-record 46-ball hundred. But Roy says, the experience of reaching three figures in an international match means so more than mere figures can convey.

"A lot of my batting is about instinct but, once you get yourself in, it's about constructing an innings," he said. "You have to be that much more precise at international level, so it was an amazing feeling to let myself know that I could do it and, now that I've done it, I hope there's plenty more to come. It's not the absolute be-all and end-all, but I'd like to believe there's a big hundred in me in the near future.

"I was conscious that it was going to take more energy to get to three figures in the UAE, because your approach to places like that has to be completely different to Australia, England and South Africa," he added. "In England you can hit on the up, in the UAE you have to take a more measured approach.

"If I woke up in the morning and someone said, 'here's a hundred at a strike rate of 85-90', I'd be like 'yeah, man'. I'd rip their arm off every day. I'm not fussed if people say that's not the way you normally play because if that's the way I've got to play to get a hundred, I'll do that every time."

Roy's arrival in the England set-up has coincided with an upsurge in the team's fortunes, but right from the outset he has been a beneficiary of the more relaxed atmosphere that has been instilled by the new regime. His first ODI innings was a case in point - a first-ball duck against New Zealand at Edgbaston, in the very same innings in which England racked up their highest ODI score of 408.

"I don't really remember it for the first-baller, I remember it because we won my first game," he says. "But my first series was an extremely eye-opening experience. My top score was about 40 [39], I wasn't a success really, but they told me at the start of the series, 'mate, this is your spot, good luck' and I just tried my best. Unfortunately it didn't come off then but I got another chance against Australia and got the boys off to a few good starts."

With Eoin Morgan coming into his own as a captain, alongside the coaching partnership of Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace, England's one-day cricketers are being given more licence to play their own games and hang the consequences. That plays nicely into the hands of a natural strokemaker such as Roy.

"I've got such a lot of respect for Morgs," said Roy. "If you've got a huge amount of respect for someone and get on with them you'll go the extra mile. It's similar in the Test stuff now with Cookie [Alastair Cook], everyone's just gelling together, really working for each other. The individual performances are helping but it seems that in white-ball and red-ball cricket everyone is really working hard as a team."

That hard work is sure to be redoubled in the coming weeks, as England build towards the World Twenty20 with the sort of purpose and direction that was manifestly absent from their preparations for the World Cup this time last year. Roy, however, who has never yet played international cricket in India, let alone at a major tournament, admits that he is about to enter into the unknown.

"I don't know how we prepare for [the World T20] to be honest," he said. "We'll go out to South Africa and speak to the coaches and the players who've toured there a bit, and see what they know. It's not the sort of place where you can just have a few nets sessions and go out and have a slog.

"It's somewhere you've got to get your head round, not just the cricket. It's the environment that is extremely tough - huge crowds, loud, hot, really intense. I'm looking forward to learning more about my game."

Jason Roy will be using the Slazenger V800 in South Africa, available to preorder in March. For more information and to view the full Slazenger Cricket range, head to www.slazenger.com/cricket

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kieran on January 30, 2016, 3:29 GMT

    @SirViv1973, thanks for the clarification on the Roy situation. The good thing for England is that they have the options to try whichever permutation they feel is strongest. Personally, I think Taylor has the goods and should be given a long rope, so there's one middle order spot sorted. I don't see Bell coming back, or Compton lasting long when there are younger players putting up good numbers in county. Is Ballance test class? I've heard he's more than capable of accelerating and taking bowlers down after some time at the crease, but I don't think his method of staying so far back will translate to consistent success for him. Root to 3? I'd be loath to move him whilst he's so prolific at 4, but he's got the game for it.

  • John on January 29, 2016, 23:21 GMT

    @markbrop - that's what I've been saying all along. Hales is not even limited over international quality!!! Reminds me of players like Kieswetter, Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara, etc. Will occasionally hit a standout inning which will make people go ga-ga all over but most of the time gets out cheaply without contributing much and never there when the pressure is on.

  • Paul on January 29, 2016, 15:37 GMT

    Noway is he an opener in first class cricket. He pushes hard at the ball with his hands, very little foot movement. He uses his bottom hand to great effect when attacking, when set and when the ball's coming on but I couldn't see him lasting the first half hour in a Test. Opening in ODI/T20 means a nick to the slips is more likely to be rewarded with four (an a commentator telling us it was a clever shot) as it is to be out. I don't think either Roy or Hales have the technical ability to find the middle of the bat when opening in Test cricket, or alternatively, the discipline to leave the ball.

  • markbrop on January 29, 2016, 14:07 GMT

    Is Hales even that good as an ODI opener? I've just looked at his record and I see he averages just 25 from 24 matches.

  • Clad on January 29, 2016, 11:35 GMT

    Roy plays at no.5 in 1st class so if he plays Test cricket it's unlikely to be as opener.

    Team for 1st ODI? I'd say - Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan, Taylor, Buttler, Stokes, Ali, Rashid, Willey, Topley. Won't be surprised of they play Broad instead of Topley or Willey though. Will also depend on whether they decide to play 2 spinners - which I think they should as they have proved their worth even on non turning pitches in white ball cricket recently. If they decide to play only one spinner then it will probably be Broad or Woakes instead of Rashid.

  • Dean on January 29, 2016, 10:44 GMT

    @Hatsforbats, I put a post on another thread regarding Roy's test credentials. The gist of it was that at this stage of his career he's probably more likely to be considered as a 4/5 rather than an opener. In terms of him getting a chance, he's scored a lot of FC runs over the past couple of yrs but they have all come in Div2. Surrey will be in Div 1 next season so he should have the opportunity to really press his claim. I think the other issue is that if we are looking for a batsman at 5 (or possibly 4 if Root goes to 3) then Eng have quite a few other options. Ballance is probably in poll position & if Vince gets early season FC runs he will also be very much in contention, there's also the possibility of bringing Bell back (he has a good record & has probably looked most comfortable at 5) or potential to try Hales or even Hildreth down the order too, so Roy may be a little way down the pecking order. The big problem for Eng batting wise is really the lack of options at 1 & 3.

  • Lee on January 29, 2016, 10:44 GMT

    Roy is a top prospect - but if he has aspirations of opening in test cricket he simply has to open at county level. Hopefully Ford's replacement will go in that direction. For now though, a good player for the limited overs teams.

  • Russell on January 29, 2016, 10:18 GMT

    We need a specialist opener in Tests. Ali didn't work. Hales isn't working. Time to try a proper opener. Preferably someone we haven't tried yet. Let Roy find his feet in Div 1, if he's serious about opening then he needs to prove he can do it for Surrey before we start thinking about him partnering Cook. To be honest I'd rather have 2 years of Carberry rather than blindly experimenting with another middle order player as opener.

  • Fiona on January 29, 2016, 6:29 GMT

    I was always more inclined to give Roy a go than Hales, having him seen him play a number of times he is much better off stump and plays with a greater awareness, a better option by far.

  • kieran on January 29, 2016, 3:53 GMT

    Roy looks a much more technical and compact batsman, to me, than what Hales does, and I loved watching him in the Eng-Aus ODI series. I asked a couple of England fans whether he was a test opening prospect, and I think the general opinion was that his middle order spot at county level was the right spot for him. Is that still the case? If Hales' approach is given the green light at test level (for how long is another question), then surely Roy is in with a chance down the line, even if he is quite a ways down the pecking order? Whether he gets the chance at test level or not, England have certainly got themselves plenty of young, dynamic short format batsmen to call on.

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