In the past, England has had a conservative approach towards one-day batting at the top of the order, often choosing traditionalists over big hitters. Often criticized for their stubbornness to evolve in the shorter formats, England selectors in recent years have tried to make amends by adding more firepower to the top order in ODIs.
One such move has been to draft Surrey’s Jason Roy at the opening slot. Roy rose to prominence in 2010, moving up from being a part of Surrey’s Second XI to a regular in their first team. Some strong performances for Surrey’s first team in the 2011 season led Roy being named in the England Performance Programme Squad to India.
Roy’s consistency was rewarded when he finally got his opportunity against India in a T20 game in 2014. Within a year, he became a regular in England’s limited overs unit.
Born in South Africa, Roy has often been touted as the next Kevin Pietersen, given his penchant for using his feet and often deploying the switch-hit in his innings. His free-striking abilities at the top, alongside another with a similar batting style, Alex Hales, is the reason for England’s ascendancy in ODIs at home since last one year.
The 26-year old Roy caught up with Gillette World Sports, giving his insights on what it takes to open the batting for his side in limited overs cricket.
The hard-hitting batsman, who has already stamped his presence in International cricket scoring three tons – two of which against Sri Lanka at home this year – believed having a positive mindset is key to opening the batting.
He said: ”My role as an opening batsman is to start the innings positively, setting the tone for my side. The first ten overs are crucial since you want the team to get a good start, but also try to not lose wickets. It comes down to weighing the risks, and still scoring six runs in an over.”
Roy also felt that, at times, an opener as to dig deep and absorb the pressure when the ball is moving around, and not try to be too aggressive. He explained that taking calculated risks is the key when opening the batting, which is highly rewarding as you bat longer.
Another essential aspect to opening the batting is facing genuine pace bowlers, and Roy considered the training regime of an opener to be very different from that of a middle order batsman.
“Training for opening batsmen is often high pace, so you often ask coaches to up the speed on the bowling machine, or make them throw balls fast at you,” mentioned Roy.
Despite unorthodox batting techniques becoming prominent nowadays, Roy also felt doing the basics right still hold the key while batting.
In the video posted by Gillette World Sports, Roy also explained the technique required to play the switch-hit and the dance down the track.
Roy, a key to England’s resurgence in ODIs over the last one year, was the top run-getter against Sri Lanka in England’s 3-0 win over England, where he also won his first man of the series award.
The young batsman felt that he has enjoyed being part of the England squad, where everyone is well bonded.
“ We have been pretty successful in the past year and a bit, and it’s great to be a part of a growing side. We want to get the fans back on our side.”
Roy also mentioned his personal ambitions in the interview. He said, “Personally, I want to win games for my side, scoring as many runs as possible. That’s my aim.”