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Jason Roy has established himself as one of the deadliest openers in limited overs cricket as he can go from zero to a hundred in the blink of an eye. With the opening batsman having enjoyed a lot of success, especially in ODIs, is it time for him to make the transition to Test cricket?
England have yet to nail down a permanent opener to bat with Alastair Cook at the top of the order since Andrew Strauss retired back in August 2012.
A total of 11 players – Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott, Adam Lyth, Moeen Ali, Alex Hales, Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings – have opened the batting with Cook in the last five years.
Mark Stoneman made his debut against the West Indies last summer and was retained for the recent Ashes series against Australia. Despite starting the series Down Under with an encouraging 53, he was unable to woo the selectors as he finished with 232 runs, which included two half-centuries, in the five Tests at an average of 25.77.
While Stoneman has been given another chance to prove his worth during the upcoming two-Test series against New Zealand in March, another failure with the bat is likely to see him axed from the side.
Should this happen, questions will be raised about who will be next in line to try and cement the opening spot that has already seen 11 players come and go.
For me personally, Roy could be the perfect candidate to partner with Cook atop the order as he plays a much more aggressive brand of cricket, which will blend well with Cook’s more defensive mindset.
A yin and yang style combination could be the thing England need when it comes to the longest format, especially after their disastrous Ashes series.
Roy recently struck a breathtaking 180 against Australia in the first ODI of the five-match series, which saw him break the record for the highest score by an England player in the format.
Given his fearless attitude and daring approach, where he relishes taking on the opposition’s bowling attack, Roy could be a nightmare for many bowlers in the longest format as he could throw them off their game or put them under pressure by going on the offensive.
However, there will definitely be some people who question whether Roy has what it takes to succeed in Test cricket. While it is impossible to know unless he is given an opportunity to represent his country in the oldest format, legendary Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath brought up an interesting comparison in a column he wrote for the Daily Mail as he likened Roy to Australia opener David Warner.
When Warner first splashed on the scene, it was all lights, camera, action! But, just under two years after making his international debut in a Twenty20 International against South Africa, Warner made his Test debut against New Zealand in December 2011.
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Since then, he has gone on to have an outstanding Test career as he has featured in a total of 71 Tests and scored 6,146 runs, which includes 21 centuries and 27 fifties, at an average of 48.77.
McGrath questioned that if Warner could have gone on to have an excellent Test career, why wouldn’t Roy be able to do the same. In fact, he event went on to predict that Roy could be playing against Warner in the 2019 Ashes series, which will be held in England.
“The way that Jason Roy batted, he didn’t have any fear of getting out. In Tests, you can play that way but the consequences are a lot graver,” McGrath wrote in his column. “It doesn’t mean you cannot transfer those natural instincts, though. Everyone who reaches the top level has the ability to play Test cricket. Just look at David Warner.
“When he started, critics said he was just a limited-overs player. Yet he moved up and became a quality player who is arguably now a better batsman in the longer version.
“When you look at someone like Roy, there are comparisons to be made to Warner and I could see them playing against each other in the 2019 Ashes.
“Like Warner, Roy backs himself to dominate the bowlers and, although I am not sure he would have the same luck in Test cricket, you could see that style of play being the way of the future.”
Looking at Roy’s first-class record to date, he has accumulated 4,376 runs in 78 matches, which includes eight hundred and 20 half-centuries, at an average of 37.72.
While his average doesn’t blow you away, his strike-rate of 82.22 depicts what kind of mentality and approach he has when it comes to four-day cricket.
With this in mind, I tend to agree with McGrath that Roy could go on to have a sensational Test career like Warner. But, the first step to finding out if this is true is to give the 27-year-old a chance to step out into the Test arena and show the world what he has to offer.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani