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‘He’s England’s best player’ – Kevin Pietersen urges England to back Jason Roy

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Former England batter Kevin Pietersen has publicly backed Jason Roy despite the England opener’s recent run of low scores.

Roy’s spot in England’s T20I team has come under scrutiny after a poor run against both India and South Africa; across the six games in the two series, Roy averaged 12.66 with a strike-rate of 77.55.

In the aftermath of the series, England white-ball head coach Matthew Mott did not rule out leaving out established players ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup. Asked if he would have any reservations about promoting less experienced players in the run-up to the global tournament, Mott said: “No, not really. For me, it’s about making good decisions at the right times and weighing up everything.

“When you’ve been a great player, and you’ve delivered great things on a big stage, I think you deserve a bit of loyalty. And I’ve always believed that, in great teams, different types of players fire and they miss out.

“You can hold that for a bit, and you get some currency from having delivered on the big stage – but at certain times, hard decisions need to be made. Young players come in and add energy, and we have two players [Phil Salt and Harry Brook] on the sidelines, they are chomping at the bit for a game and I think that’s really healthy.“So that they’ve now got an opportunity to go back to the Hundred, get a mountain of runs, keep putting pressure on and be ready for when that opportunity does come. It’s about making good decisions at the right times – it’s not that no-one in the team has mortgage on a spot. The nature of cricket suggests that at different times, players come in and out of form.”

Pietersen, however, speaking on Sky Sports prior to Jason Roy’s appearance for Oval Invincibles against Welsh Fire in The Hundred, argued that the 2019 World Cup winner should be unequivocally backed ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

“He is England’s best player and he has been England’s best player for a number of years,” said Pietersen. “Back your best players. What happens if they replace him now at the top of the order? They go to Pakistan and they’ve got seven T20s in Pakistan. So they put a new guy in for the games against Pakistan, this guy goes to Pakistan – Pakistan are a wonderful outfit – and he goes, nought, three, nought, two, one. They think, ‘Oh my goodness, we need Roy for the World Cup.'”

“Give Roy the opportunity through The Hundred, through those T20s [against Pakistan] to find form again. Back him. They’ve done it with [Zak] Crawley in the Test [side]. Ben Stokes said in the Test match, categorically, ‘Zak Crawley will play for the rest of the season. You can write what you want, he’s our opener.’ They need to do that with Jason Roy in England’s T20 team.”

Roy has so far batted twice in The Hundred this summer, falling for a golden duck against London Spirit and then for a run-a-ball 10 against Welsh Fire.

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