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Jason Roy marks 100-cap England milestone with fitting show of form

"To be involved in a team like this for 100 games is ridiculous," says tone-setting opener

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Jason Roy made a half-century in his 100th ODI  •  Getty Images

Jason Roy made a half-century in his 100th ODI  •  Getty Images

The romantic outcome in Jason Roy's 100th ODI appearance would have been for him to score a hundred and walk off unbeaten. But perhaps his dismissal for 73 off 60 balls, slicing a catch to short third man, was a better reflection of his England career.
Roy was visibly frustrated, swiping at the air in frustration, but his attempt to hit the fifth boundary in Aryan Dutt's over and thereby kill off the run chase demonstrated the selflessness that has made him such an invaluable player in Eoin Morgan's side over the past seven years: team first, personal milestones second.
In the 2019 World Cup, when his return to the side after a hamstring tear revitalised England's faltering campaign, it was a similar story: 66 off 57, 60 off 61 and 85 off 65 in three consecutive must-win games, all dismissed while playing attacking shots. "He intimidates bowlers," Morgan said after his return against India. "He's a gun player."
He was certainly intimidating against Netherlands on Sunday, crunching five boundaries in the first nine balls he faced to get England ahead of the required rate and remove any semblance of scoring pressure at the start of their chase, racing to a 43-ball half-century. By the time he was dismissed, the required rate was down to a formality at 4.08 per over.
It would have been difficult to fathom at the end of Roy's first ODI innings that he would reach this landmark: after his debut in Ireland was washed out, he flashed his first ball in the format to backward point as a prelude to England racking up their first-ever 400-plus total in 50-over cricket against New Zealand.
He managed only 98 runs across the course of that series but, crucially, he bought into Eoin Morgan's vision of an all-guns-blazing approach. "He didn't score a run," Paul Farbrace, England's interim coach in that series, recalled, "but because he kept attacking, kept playing in the right way for his role in the team, he was kept in."
Roy has come in and out of form over the years, most notably in the 2017 Champions Trophy when he was dropped from the side after a lean run of form and looked as though he would struggle to regain his place. But his first two innings back after Alex Hales' involvement in the infamous Bristol brawl were 84 off 66 and 96 off 70, and he has rarely looked back.
"To be involved in a team like this for 100 games is ridiculous," he said after Sunday's game. "To be so happy every time you go into a changing room and buzzing and feeling enjoyment is a really incredible feeling. Whether I got 70 or 0, today would have been an extremely special day."
Roy was presented with his 100th cap by Moeen Ali in the England huddle and said the speech had been "very good", to the extent that he was on the verge of tears. "He's the perfect guy to give it to you because you're not judged by your cricket in this group," Roy said. "You're judged as a person, the energy you bring and how hard you work. If he went on for a minute longer, there might have been a tear or two, but he stopped just in time."
His legacy with England's white-ball set-up is personified by Phil Salt, who spoke after Friday's first ODI about the influence that Roy's approach has had on his career. "He's a very relaxed guy, works extremely hard and whacks the ball hard," Roy said. "For him to say that is obviously a great honour but makes me feel old as hell."
Roy's 100th cap was a family affair, not least with Shane Snater, his cousin, in the Netherlands team. Snater dismissed him with a nip-backer through the gate on Friday - "he did buy me a drink… it's water under the bridge," Roy said with a smile - and took the catch to dismiss him on Sunday, but only after being slashed away for two boundaries.
His wife, Elle, was in Amsterdam this weekend and was at his cap presentation before racing to the nearby Schiphol airport to catch a flight home, thereby missing his innings. "She's seen enough of that," he said. "Extremely proud to have her and my little one there to mark the occasion. It was really, really special."
Roy spent two months at the start of the English summer away from the game and with his family after a mystery fine for undisclosed misconduct earlier in the year, the details of which remain unclear several months later. He declined to comment, but said the incident had not been discussed and that he had benefitted from his decision to pull out of the IPL and skip the start of the county season.
"Unfortunately, I can't talk about it," he said, "but it's not been spoken about since it came all out. I was able to enjoy my training, my family time and enjoy normal life for a couple of months. [The break] definitely benefitted my game. Things mentally weren't right with me at the PSL. I was in a weird place because I was playing good cricket but I wasn't enjoying myself, I wasn't happy and it was just a dark time.
"It was just a good two months to come home and live a normal life for a bit after a tough couple of years with a lot of months away - over 50 days of hotel quarantine the year before and then having a child in January and having to spend time away from him was just a bit too much." Thankfully for England, he seems to be back towards his belligerent best.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98