World Cup 2019: Roaring Roy, England cricket's symbol of confidence
BIRMINGHAM: For Indian fans at Birmingham, it was about more than one star. It was about Virat Kohli and ‘Thala’ MS Dhoni, about Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, about Hardik Pandya and even Rishabh Pant. But there was only one name that was spoken about by the English media and fans -- Jason Roy.
“There is Root, Morgan, Stokes... but I think it has to be Roy,” said almost every England fan out at Edgbaston before the start of the match. Roy was all over the newspapers. At the World Cup, England have a star-studded side comprising the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer, but why Roy? What is so special about him?
The answer is simple: He can reverse sweep Yuzvendra Chahal and spot Kuldeep Yadav’s googlies and smash it over his head; he can hit a tossed up leg-spinning delivery from outside the off stump over mid-wicket; he can charge the pacers with disdain and deposit them over long-off even while respecting a champion bowler like Bumrah. In short, he could ensure India don’t draw first blood in a crunch game.
Factoring in Roy
Let’s take a look at some interesting numbers to understand the Roy factor.
Fall of the first wicket vs India so far in World Cup: South Africa 11/1, Australia 61/1, Pakistan 13/1, Afghanistan 20/1, West Indies 10/1 and England 160/1 (in the 22nd over).
The opening stands during the Pakistan series: (2nd ODI, Roy-Bairstow) 115; (3rd ODI, Roy-Bairstow) 159; (4th ODI, Roy-Vince) 94; (5th ODI, Vince/Bairstow) 63.
The opening stands in the World Cup so far: (vs SA, Roy-Bairstow) 1; (vs Bangladesh, Roy-Bairstow) 128, (vs West Indies, Bairstow-Root) 95; (vs Afghanistan, Bairstow-Vince) 44, (vs Sri Lanka, Bairstow-Vince) 1 and (vs Australia, Bairstow-Vince) 0.
In his last eight ODIs prior to this innings, since the Pakistan series in May, Roy has six scores in excess of fifty, including two hundreds. And he has already smashed the Bangladesh bowlers in this World Cup, smashing a sensational 153 before the hamstring laid him low.
Well, numbers don’t lie. There have been numerous tales of certain things being treated as a symbol of strength and it looks like Roy is a symbol of confidence for this England cricket team.
Bairstow, who smashed his eighth ODI hundred, was a different beast altogether with Roy at the other end for company. Minus Roy, Bairstow struggled -- struggled with the bat against Sri Lanka and Australia -- and got himself tangled in a war of words with former England cricketers.
But today he had Roy for company. He knew he could hand Bumrah a maiden in the first powerplay (ninth over), aware that there is Roy at the end who could make up for the dot balls with his approach, and that’s exactly what Roy did.
The impact of Roy’s presence has been such that Morgan, at the pre-match press conference, stated that they would take the risk of playing him even if he is not a hundred percent fit. They were ready to take the gamble. Morgan and the England team management knew it was now or never for them. They had no option, but to take the risk.
“Depending on the significance of the risk. If it was going to rule him out long term, absolutely not. If it was going to rule him out for a couple of weeks, yes,” said Morgan.
23 overs later, after Morgan won the toss and opted to bat, the Roy-Bairstow pair proved why they are one of the most feared opening pairs in the world in limited-overs cricket. The way they sent ball after ball into the stands, full of Indian fans, was sensational.
Kuldeep and Chahal weren’t allowed to settle. Both batsmen ran down the pitch and whacked them out of the park. And at every single opportunity, Roy brought out the reverse sweep, while Bairstow brought it out later. Both batsmen got to the pitch of the ball and negated the turn from the equation.
Bairstow, who did get beaten on a few instances outside the bat with Chahal spinning the ball away, decided to use the horizontal bat and whacked the Indian spin twins over long-on and deep mid-wicket.
Roy got a reprieve on 21 when the Indians decided not to review a faint edge (off Roy's gloves) while pulling one. But let's not take anything away from Roy and Bairstow. They went on a boundary-hitting spree, smashing 98 runs between overs 10 and 20.
By the time Roy and Bairstow were eventually dismissed -- on 66 and 111, respectively -- they had well and truly lived up to the expectations of the England fans, media and, most importantly, the dressing room.
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