NASSER HUSSAIN: Jason Roy is a real talent… but he is still weak against the moving ball

What I saw on the second day at Lord’s hasn’t really changed my opinion of Jason Roy. In fact, it’s probably confirmed it.

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Make no mistake: I’d have Roy in my Test side. He’s an incredible talent, with plenty of confidence and swagger. He’s exactly the style of cricketer England are looking for. 

But I still think his technique is vulnerable so high up the order against the moving ball, which is why I’d pick him at No 4, and move Joe Root up to No 3 – even though the captain doesn’t want to shift.

Stuart Thompson dismisses Jason Roy for 72 on day two of England's Test match with Ireland

Stuart Thompson dismisses Jason Roy for 72 on day two of England’s Test match with Ireland

Think back to the World Cup. In the semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston, where the ball didn’t swing or seam, Roy looked a million dollars. 

In the final against New Zealand at Lord’s, where the ball did a fair bit through the air and off the pitch, he struggled.

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It’s been the same in this Test against Ireland. On the first day, when the pitch was green and Tim Murtagh was making it do all sorts, he looked vulnerable. 

On the second, once the pitch had calmed down and changed colour, he was more at ease, and could hit through the line, which is what he likes to do in the one-day game.

Even then, there were moments when he got a bit frenetic, and his bottom hand took over. And you could tell soon before he got out that Ireland’s bowlers were beginning to fancy their chances. It wasn’t that Roy had relaxed. But maybe, subconsciously, he thought he’d proved his point.

On the first day, Tim Murtagh was making it do all sorts and dismissed vulnerable-looking Roy

On the first day, Tim Murtagh was making it do all sorts and dismissed vulnerable-looking Roy

On the first day, Tim Murtagh was making it do all sorts and dismissed vulnerable-looking Roy

A while back, England’s batting coach Graham Thorpe got into Roy about making the most of his ability. 

We used to see him make attractive 30s and 40s for the one-day team, but Thorpe impressed on him the need to score big hundreds. He took it on board, and is now one of the best one-day openers in the world.

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In Test cricket, he needs to be hard on himself too. We don’t want to rob him of the skills that have made him the player he is – English cricket does have a tendency to be suspicious of players who are a bit different. But Roy does need to realise that he can give himself time in Test cricket.

In the one-day game, his role is almost always the same: go out and smash it in the first 10 overs. He doesn’t generally have to adapt to the game situation. 

But that’s exactly what Test cricket is about: you’re adapting to the pitch, the bowling, the situation of the game, the needs of your team.

The 29-year-old loses his shoe while batting for England on the second day at Lord's

The 29-year-old loses his shoe while batting for England on the second day at Lord's

The 29-year-old loses his shoe while batting for England on the second day at Lord’s

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I believe Roy is at his best when he’s calm, which in turn impacts on his technique. In that Edgbaston semi-final, he was extremely calm, and that allowed him to play the ball late with soft hands. When he’s feeling under pressure or rushed, he goes at it with hard hands.

If he can find a way of keeping his cool, we could have quite a Test player on our hands.

England’s problem, of course, is that the county game is full of batsmen who prefer to go in down the order. So when you look at the struggle Rory Burns is going through, there’s no obvious replacement.

My concern about Burns, especially so close to the Ashes, is that there are so many moving parts to his game that things unravel easily when he’s out of nick. 

When a guy like Joe Root loses a bit of form, he has a solid, uncomplicated technique to fall back on.

Roy struggled against New Zealand at Lord's in the Cricket World Cup final earlier this month
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Roy struggled against New Zealand at Lord's in the Cricket World Cup final earlier this month

Roy struggled against New Zealand at Lord’s in the Cricket World Cup final earlier this month

But Burns’s technique is more complex, and right now he is playing at deliveries outside off stump that, as an opener, you don’t need to be playing at. 

The first rule of opening the batting is know where your off stump is. But he’s lost its whereabouts, and he’s in danger of going into the Ashes with a scrambled brain.

And that goes back to my worry about Roy. As things stand, England will be taking on Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with one opener who is down on form and confidence, and another who is still learning the ropes.

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It’s far from ideal, but – after the retirement of Alastair Cook – this is the reality of top-order batting in this country at the moment. Right now, England are in a position where they are just going to have to hope for the best.

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