BY MARCUS HOOK
Jason Roy blasted 153 in England’s World Cup win over Bangladesh last weekend, which prompted Paul Farbrace – the former assistant coach of the national team – to tip the Surrey man as a serious contender in terms of who should partner Rory Burns at the top of England’s fragile batting order in this summer’s Ashes.
“If Jason continues to play the way he is, the Ashes are within his reach,” said Farbrace, who was second in command to England’s head coach, Trevor Bayliss until recently. “Jason has developed his game, he has matured as a person and a player. He’s more than capable of playing Test cricket.”
Since making just 68 runs in nine innings for England a couple of years ago, Roy has scored 1,691 runs at an average of 52.84 in ODI cricket. He and Jonny Bairstow have shared in five of the 10 quickest century opening stands in ODI cricket over the same period. Roy’s 153 was also his fifth ODI hundred in the space of 19 innings for England.
“Rory Burns is nailed on to open and that could be with either Roy or Kent’s Joe Denly,” added Farbrace, who is how Warwickshire’s director of cricket. “After that, the middle order is settled.
“Roy could be the last bit of the jigsaw. He could cash in on the World Cup and take that form into the Ashes.”
Though Roy, 28, opens in limited-overs cricket, he has batted in the middle order for almost all of his first-class career, averaging 38.38.
But Farbrace still believes the Surrey man can cope with facing the new ball in the longest form of the game.
“I don’t think him moving up the order would be a problem,” said Farbrace. “Whereas once he tried to smash every ball for four or six, the past 18 months have seen him really improve as a player. In terms of maturity, mentality and temperament, he has the game for Test cricket.
“Not only that, but you need a strong character to take Australia on, to go toe to toe with them, and Jason has that in abundance.”
England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan agreed with Farbrace’s assessment.
“I do think he could play Test cricket at some stage,” said Morgan. “He has every attribute needed. Whether that is now or in a couple of years’ time, it’s not for me to decide.
“It’s a luxury to have him in our team. People talk about scoring hundreds – he goes on to get big scores.
“He scores all the way around the ground and takes really good bowlers down. He’s great to have in the side.”