« [I am] a million miles better and you can probably see that by my frustration on Saturday when I got out, » © Getty
Among many observations from Jason Roy’s time on the international scene it is his bluntness when past failures are brought up.
He is not unique in that sense. Sports stars across the world are prickly when their errors are put to them and no doubt it is the need to be bristling with confidence to excel at the highest level that draws curt responses. And Roy can be as curt as the best of them.
But it speaks volumes of Roy’s current situation that when asked about a dire run of form which saw him dropped for the semi-final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, he was measured and appreciative of the journey he embarked on since then. Scores of 0, 20, 1, 8, 4, 1, 13 and 4 saw England take the merciful option of pulling him out of the firing line for Jonny Bairstow.
« I was in a bad place before the Champions Trophy, » admitted Roy. « Got dropped, rightly so and then brought back into the team and adapted from there.
« There’s not a huge amount I’d do differently. I’d probably be a bit more relaxed about it. I’d identify where I’m going wrong quicker. I was in that frame of mind where I wasn’t able to identify where I was going wrong. »
While the Yorkshireman never looked back, Alex Hales’ indiscretions at Bristol saw Roy earn a reprieve that same summer. And his record since is really quite something.
He is averaging 47.62 with a strike rate of 109.54, figuring comfortably above his career average. There have been four ODI hundreds and as many half-centuries, including Saturday’s 87. In fact, the only show of dissent during Roy’s media engagements on Monday was against himself for what he feels was another hundred spurned. A snapshot, in his opinion, of the sort of batsman he has become ahead of his first 50-over World Cup.
« [I am] a million miles better and you can probably see that by my frustration on Saturday when I got out, » said Roy. « I was absolutely livid with myself because that’s what I’ve changed most in the last two and a half years.
« My 60s and 70s have become hundreds. I was fuming. That kinda shows where I’m at mentally with my cricket. Definitely the last two years is a huge positive for me leading into the competition. »
The innings in the second ODI was not a typical Roy knock, with balls faced exceeding runs accrued (98 to 81), but it was a welcome return to action after a back issue threatened to seriously hamper his summer. « Disgusting » was the word he used to describe the pain when a slipped disc « grabbed on to » his sciatic nerve and sent pain further down. « I couldn’t quite straighten my left leg, » reveals Roy, « so it was a bit worrying, but absolutely no worries at all now. »
There was certainly no sign of physical troubles when Roy leaned into a back of a length ball and met it high to launch it higher over midwicket for six. Had he hit a ball sweeter? « No, no, that’s as good as it gets – sorry lads, » he said, with a smile. « I’ve played that shot before and maybe got out a couple of times! I guess it was instinct. I was kind of struggling a little bit and then it was nice to get one out of the sweet spot and then I felt good from there.
While ODI hundred number eight was not forthcoming, the platform left by Roy was built on magnificently by Jos Buttler’s 55-ball 110*. Perhaps, though, it would have been Roy who rocked the cradle in celebration first had he managed to get to three figures before Buttler’s fireworks. Both have welcomed children into the world in the last month which the Surrey opener describes as challenging but « very cool ».
« I’m not sure many feelings can touch that to be honest. We’ll hopefully see when we lift the World Cup if that can come anywhere near. »
Though he may be short on a bit of sleep, Roy is certainly not short on clarity. While he is evidently in a better place to quell any negative thoughts or slips in form, his game out in the middle is as bulletproof as it has ever been.