Speaking on the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, Mark Butcher has backed Jason Roy to come good during The Hundred.
Roy is experiencing an abject run of form for England, scoring just 76 runs in six T20I matches this summer at an average of 12.66. Of more concern is the rate that the lack of runs have been scored, with the normally fast starting Roy striking at just 77.55.
The run of form for England has then been followed up by scores of 0 and 10 in The Hundred, which has served only to increase the pressure on Roy’s place in the England side.
“He’s having an absolute mare at the minute” Butcher said. “And I hadn’t been concerned actually until the last T20 game at Southampton where it was almost like you could see the cogs whirring around in his head, he was kind of thinking, ‘should I hit this, should I not?’.
“And that is where, you know, you’re going out there taking massive risks at the top of the order, you’re going to have runs where you don’t score any runs, but it was the sudden hesitancy of, ‘whether I should try and thump it or not’, that was a little bit of a concern. Now, the chances are that he’s going to come out of that between now and the end of The Hundred and then you’d be happy enough to pick him.
“England’s options, when the likes of Stokes is back and they’ve got a full list to pick from, you’ve got the option of bringing Bairstow to the top of the order or you could bat Stokes at No.3, whatever it is, you can adjust it around the players you’ve got already without having to bring anyone else in. And somebody like Phil Salt you’d imagine will be in the squad anyway. So at the moment it’s not panic stations [for England] but it’s a good story, isn’t it? Because there are struggles and there are struggles and at the moment it is very public and it looks like it’s getting worse rather than better at the minute.”
One of Roy’s fiercest defenders has been former England batter Kevin Pietersen. Speaking on Sky Sports, he argued that Roy, as “England’s best player”, should be backed unequivocally.
“What happens if they replace him now at the top of the order?”, asked Pietersen. “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.’”
Roy is set to captain Oval Invincibles in Sam Billings’ absence, with the gloveman on England Lions duty. The opener has had fluctuations in form previously, with hot streaks regularly coming after a lull in form. Most memorably, he followed up an underwhelming performance in the 2017 Champions Trophy, during which he was dropped, with consecutive scores of 84, 96 and 180 against West Indies and Australia.
“I think that’s KPs point,” remarked Butcher, “that he might not be scoring any runs at the moment and it looks like the world is ending for him. But with someone with that amount of ability can suddenly flick a switch and everything’s fine. So I wouldn’t be on the ‘Roy out’ train just yet.”
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