Still taken from Sky Sports
It’s good to see Jason Roy making hundreds in one-day internationals. Earlier in the year, we were concerned that he wrongly thought he should give himself time in Twenty20. While he ultimately got over that, we’ve since been worried that he might subsequently do the reverse and try take his Twenty20 approach into the middle format.
England have found success in T20 through successfully encouraging their batmen to put a low price on their wickets. They bat right on the cusp of irresponsibility in the knowledge that there is always – to quote every commentator ever – “plenty of batting to come.”
In 50-over cricket, there isn’t always plenty of batting to come. Sometimes you run out of batting. 50-over sides need the proper batsmen to hang around. They still need them to score quickly, but not with almost complete disregard for their own survival.
Like pulling a wheelie, it’s tough to find the right balance, but Jason Roy is currently somewhere near the right spot.
Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes were the actual heroes for England, but this is Twenty20, so like everyone else, let’s instead turn our attention to Jason Roy – a batsman.
Roy used both edges of his bat and quite often the middle. Crucially, he also abandoned the moronic belief that it is somehow beneficial for the side that he play himself in and started hitting from what some people call ‘the get-go’ but which we, as a Briton, call ‘the outset’.
Turns out Roy doesn’t need to give himself time. Maybe he is a robot – a roybot, if you will.
Roy’s approach achieves two things. It means England score a bunch of runs and it also means the batsmen who come after him can play with a modicum of control. Not that they necessarily do. When the adrenaline’s pumping, it can be hard to deliberately take singles.
They got enough of them though (plus a few boundaries). They’re into the World T20 final.
Not so long ago, England were claiming that they had little regard for par scores any more. Henceforth, their only target was to be ‘as many as we can get’. Maybe this is still the case, but today’s batting against the West Indies seemed initially cautious to these sometimes blurry eyes.
We had in mind a rather worrying interview with Jason Roy we read last week, in which he said: “I’ve got to realise I need to give myself time – I’m not a robot.”
It seemed unfair on robots that they shouldn’t be permitted time, but that wasn’t what really concerned us. We were more worried about Roy spending any time at all playing himself in. Jason Roy may well need to give himself time, but that is almost exactly what England don’t need.
Roy’s job is to flail from the off, because Alex Hales can’t. If Roy eats up a dozen balls making a similar number of runs, that isn’t really good enough. It’s a fifth of the innings wasted, because Hales will more often than not be doing the same. Hales has earned the right do that. That’s his way. He is the big log England are looking to ignite. In this analogy, Jason Roy is basically just tinder.
That may seem dismissive, but the truth is that this is essentially England’s strategy. They have ten batsmen, only two or three of whom are special. The rest are disposable; fast-burning kindling. A to-hell-with-the-consequences approach at the top of the order is barely even a gamble because the only consequences are to the individual – the team can easily cope with his loss.
In contrast, Chris Gayle is the West Indies’ Hales. And then some.
Gayle is Alex Hales having played hundreds more international matches and twice as much T20. He is an Alex Hales who’s faced every T20 situation and played T20 in every ground. He is an Alex Hales shot-through with experience and shorn of doubt.
Gayle knew that 183 could be chased in Mumbai. All he had to do was go out and do it.