Jason Jonathan Roy
July 21, 1990, Durban, South Africa
Right hand Bat
If there was any doubt over the value of Jason Roy to England's limited-overs team - and there probably shouldn't have been - it was dispelled on the way to their World Cup triumph of 2019.
Having started the tournament in formidable form - he made a half-century against South Africa and a brutal 153 against Bangladesh - he suffered a hamstring injury against West Indies and could only watch-on as England suffered tournament threatening defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia.
Rushed back into the side - there was little evidence that he had fully recovered - Roy responded with three typically domineering half-centuries (innings of 66, 60 and 85) and three century partnerships with the equally prolific Jonny Bairstow in what were effectively knock-out games against India, New Zealand and Australia. By the end of that Australia game - the World Cup semi-final - Roy had registered three centuries and six half-centuries in his previous 11 ODI innings. Ben Stokes' brilliance understandably stole the headlines in the final, but there was no way England were reaching that stage without the remarkable consistency of Roy and Bairstow. Going into the final, the pair had recorded four century stands in succession (a record for a single tournament) and 11 in 32 ODIs. And they had the highest strike-rates in history of opening batsmen with more than 1,000 ODI runs to their name.
The swaggering strokeplay of Roy became a central feature of England's limited-overs cricket after their miserable display in the 2015 World Cup insisted that a more adventurous approach was essential. For Roy, a Surrey opener of dashing disposition, such a change of emphasis was ideal. Under the leadership of Eoin Morgan, adamant that England must play free-spirited cricket, Roy found his voice, making his maiden ODI hundred in the UAE in late 2015 before adding two more at home to Sri Lanka the following summer - including 162, at the time the second-highest ODI score made by an England batsman, in front of his adoring home crowd at The Oval.
There was even better to come. In banishing the blues of an Ashes Test thrashing in 2017-18, Roy surpassed Alex Hales' record one-day score for England of 171 (Hales had himself gone past Robin Smith in 2016) with 180 in Melbourne as Australia recognised an England one-day side performing with a freedom of expression that surpassed anything they could muster in response. This was far removed from the batsman who had endured such a dud season in Australia's Big Bash competition.
Born in South Africa, Roy came to the UK aged 10 and soon started to move through the system. He was a hugely successful schoolboy cricketer for Whitgift, and made his Surrey debut as a 17-year-old in 2008 during the Twenty20 Cup and his fielding talents were noticed by England, who used him as a sub later that summer against South Africa. It wasn't until 2010 that he broke into the first team again. He promptly thumped 101 off 57 balls against Kent at Beckenham, Surrey's first T20 hundred. Later in the summer he struck an unbeaten 76 from 65 balls against Leicestershire on Championship debut. England's selectors gave him a place on the Performance Programme tour to India before the England Lions tour to Sri Lanka in early 2012.
Roy's obvious ability in the shorter formats led to him twice winning T20 contracts in the Bangladesh Premier League but he struggled to build on a quietly impressive role in Surrey's 2011 promotion campaign, when he made his maiden first-class hundred. In 2013, he made two YB40 centuries - doubling his List A tally - but struggled badly in Championship cricket, scoring just 49 runs in seven innings.
It was in 2014 that Roy made the leap from a prodigiously talented but erratic young cricketer to a consistent match-winner. The transformation was particularly evident in the NatWest T20 Blast, where he struck 677 runs at 48.35 apiece - the highest tally in the competition. England's T20 competition had undeniably produced an exciting batsman of international quality. Roy's uncomplicated clean-striking became as much a feature of Friday nights at The Oval as the beer-snakes and streakers. With his breathtaking power down the ground and penchant for switch-hitting - not to mention the fact he was born in South Africa - he was frequently compared to Kevin Pietersen, not least by Pietersen himself. His brilliance did not achieve the same levels in the following two summers - how could it? - but a destructive hundred against Somerset in 2015, and against Kent the following year, was a reminder of his unfettered talent.
After working hard on pacing his innings in four-day cricket, Roy also blossomed in Championship cricket in 2014, hitting 1078 runs, the highest at the club, at an average of 50-plus without reigning in his destructiveness: his strike rate was still 84. He also averaged 47.65 in the Championship in a promotion year in 2015, his strike rate even higher.
By the summer's end, he was rewarded with a T20 international debut against India and in 2015 he became a fixture in England's limited-overs formats, building on a couple of promising 60s against Australia with a maiden ODI ton against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, an innings that was rarely fluent - and that was entirely overshadowed by Jos Buttler's dash to his own hundred in record time - but one that provided proof of a growing survival mentality.
After a breakthrough year in international cricket, which included helping England to the World T20 final, he won a maiden IPL contract for the 2017 tournament. But spending most of his time sitting in the dugout for Gujarat Lions was not productive and his form faltered ahead of the 2017 Champions Trophy. He had failed to pass 20 in nine ODI innings and was eventually dropped from England's side for the semi-final (which they lost), but he rebounded well in the late-September ODIs against West Indies after Hales' night out in Bristol cost him his spot.
The crowd-pleasing innings soon began to occur with increasing regularity, as one half of a prolific opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow that embodied the devil-may-care approach of an exciting England side that found itself top of the ODI rankings. As well as the Melbourne 180 (which also included a record-breaking 221 stand for the third wicket with Joe Root), there were further hundreds against Australia in Cardiff and Chester-le-Street in 2018; followed by two more, against West Indies and Pakistan, in the lead-up to the World Cup, pushing his average above 40 and leading to increased calls for him to be considered for the Ashes to follow later in 2019.
He was unable to replicate such dominance when that Test call came. Despite an innings of 72 made from No. 3 on debut (England had utilised a nightwatchman) against Ireland, the somewhat puzzling decision to use him as an opening batsman - a role he had long since abandoned for Surrey; indeed, he had never batted for two complete sessions in a first-class game - exposed issues against the moving ball. In four Ashes Tests, he averaged just 13.75 with a best of 31. By the time he was demoted to No. 4, his confidence looked to have been eroded and he was dropped ahead of the final Test at The Oval.
Batting & Fielding