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Opinion: Test cricket is aptly named, Jason Roy is the prime example

Jason Roy cuts a sorry figure.
Jason Roy cuts a sorry figure.
S Chowdhury
ANALYST
Modified 11 Sep 2019, 17:15 IST
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It seems a distant memory now...Jason Roy smashing the ball to all corners of the park as hapless fielders in green could only collect it from the boundary and deposit it back to even more helpless bowlers. Roy smashed a glorious 153 off a mere 121 deliveries that day as eventual champions England raced to a facile victory over Bangladesh in the World Cup encounter.

Roy missed the following games as the hosts had a few slip-ups on their way to a semi-final spot and his opening partner Jonny Bairstow suffered in his absence as well before the former eventually returned to spearhead England's dramatic triumph on home soil.

Roy had brilliant numbers in the 2019 World Cup, an average of 63.28, a strike rate of 115.36, a mammoth runs tally of 443, just 22 behind Ben Stokes who top-scored for the Englishmen, having played three innings less than the superstar all-rounder. No one could deny that Roy was one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world right now.

Irish initiation

The Irish dominated day one at Lord
The Irish dominated day one at Lord's.

It's a cliche, but cliches have survived because they are generally correct observations and the fact that Test cricket is a different ball-game was adequately established by Roy's debut in the format against supposed minnows Ireland.

The Irish got it to swing and seam in helpful conditions at Lord's in the only Test between the two nations and the red ball proved to be a vicious weapon that none of the English batsmen could handle. Roy becoming part of the problem and not the solution as his technical frailties were left exposed during a short stint at the crease.

The Surrey batsman redeemed himself in the second essay to score 72 in characteristically quick-fire fashion as normal order was restored; England won the match but a much bigger test awaited and holes had only been covered up hastily, not mended.

Ashes humbling

It seems strange that Roy and England's triumphant march on home soil in the 50-over World Cup took place just two months ago; it seems aeons, in fact, it seems like a different space and time. That's how the change of formats impacts the sport. Roy was persisted with in England's quest to regain the fabled urn and it turned out to be a nightmarish escapade for the swashbuckling opener.

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Four Tests down and the urn having been retained by the determined Australians propelled by the genius of Steven Smith and some determined pace bowling, the skeletons have tumbled out off England's closet; especially with regards to their prowess with the willow in the longest format.

Roy has had a particularly humiliating fall from grace, beginning as an opener and then dropping down to No.4. It did not help his cause as Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, with their dexterous line and length, showed precisely why Tests are called just that.

Cyberspace erupted in typically unforgiving joy as Roy was castled twice by two in-cutters in two innings in the fourth Test at Old Trafford. The gap between his bat and pad analogous to his achievements in the two formats he has recently played in. He has an average of 13.75 in the Ashes right now and may even be dropped for the final Test if Ben Stokes cannot bowl and England need a bowling allrounder to maintain team balance.

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What's next?

Roy fell over both times he was clean bowled at Old Trafford as if to suggest the ball had kept low. It hadn't, he had let it through and it was due to that missing something in technique and temperament that is required to survive in Tests. For some, the writing's already on the wall, he is a great stroke-maker and a great white-ball cricketer but is not cut out for Tests.

But the man with a first-class average of almost 37 will want to prove them wrong if he gets more opportunities at the Test level. One thing is for certain though, he has understood how aptly the format is named after his baptism by fire in the Ashes.

Also see - Live cricket score

Published 10 Sep 2019, 23:05 IST
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