So the news is mixed. Jason Roy’s scan has indeed revealed a hamstring tear. But it’s not a bad one. Allegedly.
England are insisting he’ll miss just two games – the somewhat inconsequential match ups against Afghanistan, who England will be expected to beat in their sleep, and Sri Lanka, who England will be expected to beat half-asleep. Roy’s injury therefore shouldn’t affect England’s chances of winning the World Cup. We’ll still be worth a 12bet bonus IF he’s back in time for the Australia game on 25th June at Lord’s.
The problem is, I fear it’s a big IF. Can someone really reach full fitness just two weeks after tearing a hamstring? Hmmmmm.
If there’s any doubt at all I think it would be prudent to rest Roy until he’s 100%. Even if this means we don’t see him again until the semi-finals. Why rush him back for a game against Australia – I expect both teams to qualify for the semis anyway – if it’s going to risk a setback and possibly rule him out of the business-end of the tournament.
I do wonder, however, whether England are extra desperate for Roy to play against Australia (in particular) because they see this game as an audition for The Ashes. There’s been lots of chat about Roy opening (or batting 3) in the test side; therefore Ed Smith and the management will be desperate to see how he fares against Starc and Cummins.
Personally I don’t think Lord’s will tell us much about Roy’s chances of success if he does play in The Ashes – white ball cricket is completely different in terms of tempo and technique. However, it could tell us a lot about whether Roy is likely to get that opportunity.
If Roy scores runs at Lord’s, and hits the Aussies pacemen around the park, then I doubt Smith and the selectors will be able to resist calling him up. We all know that the current regime values runs on big occasions in front of big crowds more than it values more relevant runs (i.e. championship runs) on lesser occasions in front of sparser crowds.
Can you really see Ed Smith leaving out Roy for someone like Joe Denly or Dominic Sibley if he scores a ton against Australia in the World Cup? Not me.
Whether you think Roy deserves a test debut seems to be quite a contentious issue judging by the debate I’ve seen on social media. Personally I would NOT ask Roy to bat in the top 3 in test cricket in an ideal world. Until very recently he averaged not much more than 30 in first class cricket and his defensive method looked extremely porous.
However, and this is quite a big however, England are not living in an ideal world. There are two vacancies at the top of the order (if one assumes that Burns takes one opener’s spot and Root insists on batting four) and I have absolutely no idea who should occupy them. The cupboard is as bare as a newborn’s bottom.
Even though I wouldn’t particularly fancy Roy’s chances of scoring runs against Hazlewood and Co on the first morning of a test match (when there’s three slips in place and assistance for the bowlers), I wouldn’t particularly fancy any candidate’s chances. At least Roy would give the Aussies something to think about.
The big problem, of course, is that as a purist I hate seeing white ball specialists get a premature leg-up into the test team. It just doesn’t sit right. Roy hasn’t done the hard yards in the championship, he’s rarely batted up the order for Surrey in the first class cricket, and I haven’t seen any evidence whatsoever that he can vary the tempo of his innings.
Basically I think picking Roy in the Ashes would be a terrible idea. But it could be the least terrible idea we’ve got.
PS I went to watch Kent versus Notts at Tunbridge Wells yesterday. Cricket at out-grounds is always fantastic. There was a good crowd in (I estimate approx 2,000 souls) and the cricket was riveting too. Kent were reduced to 100-5 but recovered to 309 thanks to a fantastic hundred from homegrown youngster Zak Crawley.
Crawley opened the batting in tricky conditions against a very good attack which included James Pattinson, Luke Fletcher, and Jake Ball. He’s certainly one to watch. He played Pattinson better than anyone else and is particularly strong on the drive and off his pads.
Talking of Pattinson, I think he looked tremendous. If Cummins, Starc, or Hazlewood pick up and injury ahead or during The Ashes, they have a superb replacement waiting in the wings.
Written in collaboration BR Agency