England’s chief selector Ed Smith insists the recent World Cup triumph has provided the ideal launchpad for Jason Roy to make his Test debut.
Roy will open the batting against Ireland in next week’s four-day match at Lord’s intent on proving he can serve as more than a limited-overs specialist before Ashes hostilities commence on August 1.
The 28-year-old’s recovery from a hamstring injury lifted Eoin Morgan’s men out of their mid-World Cup slump in time to reach the semi-finals, his average of 63.28 securing a place in the team of the tournament.
“It’s no great secret that we have long been admirers of Jason. He’s growing as a batsman all the time and is a more complete player than he’s ever been.” Smith said.
“The big question with Jason Roy was when was the ideal time to make the move into Test cricket?
“(England captain) Joe Root and I spoke at length months ago about the scenario in which Jason finished the World Cup confident, full of runs and went straight into the Ashes and that’s what we’ve done.
“It feels like a really good time for Jason to join the Test team as an opener. He’s in and has our full backing.
“Our confidence in him is based on a mixture of him as a player, person, and performer in all formats.
“When he did play at the very back of end of last summer in red-ball cricket he did well for Surrey and again for the Lions he carried on his good form in red-ball cricket.
“There’s never been any doubt about his talent, audacity or his presence at the crease – it’s fantastic. All those things are very clear. But he’s also gained improved mastery and adaptability.”
While Roy’s swaggering stroke play will be present at Lord’s next week, England’s two most potent bowlers of the World Cup will be absent.
Mark Wood has been ruled out for four to six weeks by the side strain sustained in the dramatic victory over New Zealand in Sunday’s final, while Jofra Archer has headed to Barbados for a holiday.
Smith refuses to guarantee that Archer will face Australia this summer with the beneficiary of a newly-awarded 12-month ECB increment contract also struggling with an ailment that could delay his Test debut.
“We don’t know when Jofra will be available at the moment. He has a side injury,” Smith said.
“He’s having a bit of a break now because he’s played a lot of cricket and has been a central protagonist in one of the great stories in sport.
“He will get every medical attention so that he will be fit as soon as possible. Then we’ll make an informed decision for the good of England cricket.
“He’s a very good cricketer and we’re very excited about him and what he can do in all formats.”
Smith described Wood’s contribution to the World Cup as “terrific”, but his loss is offset by the imminent return of Jimmy Anderson from a calf injury.
“Jimmy is making very good progress. If he is good to go, he will play in the Ireland Test. If he is deemed too big a risk, he will not play against Ireland,” Smith said.
“The third scenario is that he sends down a certain amount of overs to make sure he gets just the right amount of work before the Ashes.”
England’s limited-overs vice-captain Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – the hero of Sunday’s win – are rested ahead of the Ashes.
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Jason Roy’s blistering World Cup form has earned the Surrey batsman his first England Test call-up for the one-off clash with Ireland.
England have been searching for a solution to their opening conundrum in recent years and have turned to the 28-year-old after a superb World Cup on home soil.
Here, PA looks at how Roy has forced his way into the Test team reckoning.
Becoming a limited-overs mainstay
Roy came into the one-day team after the disastrous 2015 World Cup and made his debut against Ireland on May 8, 2015.
But it did not take long for him to claim his place as a regular opener as he recorded two half-centuries in just his second series with the squad.
He went on to record his first hundred in the UAE against Pakistan before hitting 162 in the series against Sri Lanka – one of two centuries.
Roy’s form dipped in 2017 as he struggled against the West Indies, Ireland and South Africa before enduring a poor ICC Champions Trophy campaign. His place was questioned but he quickly hit back in style.
A career-high score of 180 followed in Australia last year as England propelled to the top of the ODI rankings, with him and Jonny Bairstow forming a strong opening partnership.
Roy has played in 19 series (of two or more matches) and England have won 15 of those – highlighting his importance to the team’s rise up the rankings.
Big-hitting Roy shines during World Cup
Having developed into a central figure in the England line-up, Roy warmed up for the World Cup in fine style by cracking two half-centuries and 114 in three innings in the final ODI series before the tournament started against Pakistan.
He continued his form by smashing 11 boundaries and four maximums during an unbeaten 89 in just 46 balls against Afghanistan in the final warm-up match and the opener began his campaign with a fine 54 in the first group game.
Roy hit just eight in defeat to Pakistan but hit back in superb style to produce his best score of the competition – 153 against Bangladesh – to kick off his World Cup with a bang.
Injury hurt England
Just as Roy got into his rhythm, he found himself out of the England team with a tear in his left hamstring picked up against the West Indies.
The injury, initially, ruled the opener out of the round-robin clashes against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, which England surprisingly lost to the latter.
He was not risked for the match against Australia, where they fell to a 64-run defeat, leaving England’s World Cup hopes in doubts with must-win contests against India and New Zealand in the final two pool matches.
Roy returned from injury to post successive opening century stands with Jonny Bairstow against India and the Black Caps, scoring 66 and 60 in the process, to help England secure a last-four spot.
England faced arch-nemesis Australia in the semi-final and Roy took the mantle of aggressor as they chased down a target of 224 at Edgbaston.
The highlight came when he hit Steve Smith for three successive sixes as he clubbed 85 off just 65 deliveries before a controversial dismissal by Pat Cummins as he guided England to their first World Cup final since 1992.
But his contributions did not stop there. Roy could only muster 17 runs in the final against New Zealand as the match went to a super over after both teams scored 241.
The opener made two misfields during the dramatic over, but came up trumps with a fine throw to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to run out Martin Guptill from the final ball of the match as England claimed their maiden World Cup crown.
Test opener search continues
England have long searched for an opening partner for Alastair Cook since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in August 2012, but this was exacerbated when England’s all-time leading runscorer decided to quit international cricket in September last year.
This gave an opportunity for Rory Burns, who topped the runscoring charts in the 2018 County Championship season, a chance to stake his claim alongside Keaton Jennings for the series in Sri Lanka and West Indies.
However, both players struggled for consistency with Jennings being replaced by Joe Denly for the second Test against the West Indies, but the Kent all-rounder mustered just 23 runs from his two innings before Jennings came back in.
The Lancashire batsman has not been selected for the Test match against Ireland, and this has left the door open for Roy to come into the fold.
Having faced the best bowlers in the world in competitions such as the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash, the selectors are confident he can deal with the pressures of opening in red-ball cricket and may also bring his aggressive style to get England on the front foot.
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Jason Roy is set to make his Test debut after being named in England’s squad for their match against Ireland at Lord’s.
The Surrey opener and limited overs specialist was a star of the recent World Cup triumph and is to be given the platform to prove he can also deliver in Test cricket.
England’s one-day international vice captain Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – the hero of Sunday’s victory over New Zealand – are rested ahead of the Ashes series which begins on August 1.
In a blow to hopes of toppling Australia, Mark Wood has been ruled out for four to six weeks with the left side strain sustained in the World Cup final.
🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 17, 2019
We have named the squad for our inaugural Test match against Ireland!#ENGvIRE
Jofra Archer is also missing because of a side strain and will be given a period of rest before being considered for Ashes selection.
An ECB statement read: “Archer will have a period of rest before being considered for selection during the Specsavers Ashes Test Series.
“He will have a short break in Barbados before returning to the UK later this month.”
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