‘Kevin the Teenager’ has grown up… now Jason Roy must open in the Ashes
Rob Key column
As county captain, you might remember that Mark Ramprakashor the star overseas player is in the opposition and make some plans for bowling at them, but with the rest you couldn’t pick their face out of a police line-up.
It’s wicket by wicket, who is next? So I remember at Beckenham in a T20 game in 2010 having no idea who this 19-year-old coming out at No3 for Surrey was.
But some of the younger lads in the huddle had come across him and told me this was “Jason Roy — a slogger”. I didn’t think too much more about it. And then he smashed us for a hundred.
There are sloggers, or those who you know rely on luck, with one good knock in 20. I would put Shahid Afridi in that category, a real swiper.
So when Roy had about 50 off 20, and had just smashed us straight down the ground, I remember turning around and saying, “This lad is no slogger, he’s a proper player”.
He had this uncomplicated, uninhibited method and did not appear to have anything negative going through in his head.
He played brilliantly and at a time when T20 hundreds were rare, he smashed us for one from 57 balls with 11 fours and five sixes.
From then on, I played against him quite a lot and I always used to think he was a bit like Kevin the Teenager from Harry Enfield’s Kevin and Perry sketches.
If you got him out he would walk off so slowly with that grumpy look on his face.
Roy opened in a Championship game when Wahab Riaz was our overseas player. Wahab is a tall left-armer who never brings the ball back into the right-hander, so the one shot you do not want to play is the drive on the up.
Four balls into the match, what does Roy do? He had a massive whoosh on the up and by the time he got back to The Oval changing rooms, we had heard confirmation that his toys had come out the pram.
In the second innings he did exactly the same thing. You just thought, “How brainless was that?”
Fast forward a couple of years and, playing at Guildford, his hands and reach made it clear that he could become one of the world’s best. More Kevin Pietersen than Kevin the Teenager.
On Saturday, Roy showed how far he has come. He accepted he had a poor game against Pakistan, so to come out and play like he did against Bangladesh shows real mental strength.
Talent like that and the will to succeed? Well, you can accomplish anything in the game with those qualities. He has mellowed and matured as a character and become very impressive and driven.
Roy just won’t settle for anything. When he first came about he would be happy with 60 playing eye-catching shots and getting England off to a flyer in their new brand of positive cricket.
Now he hardly settles for hundreds. It can take people a long time to work that desire out, but he has.
When he gets to 100, he wants to destroy bowling attacks.
I would have actually liked to see him settle for the 18 he had taken off Mehedi Hasan the other day, get down the other end and take 18 off every over from then on and get 200 and beyond. He clearly wanted 36 off the over and got out trying. His job was done.
The next step for Roy is obvious. He absolutely should play in the Ashes. I thought that he should have gone on tour last winter.
Imagine yourself as the captain of England. Is there really anyone else in English cricket you want to see walking out to face Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins?
He has the technique, temperament and sense of the occasion to succeed.
The experience of playing 100 internationals and scoring nine centuries against the world’s best bowlers in high-pressure situations is more of an indicator that he will succeed than doing well on a snakepit at Derby against medium-paced trundlers.
Roy probably would score quickly because he gives the bowlers no margin for error, but if for a session someone bowls well to him, I believe he has the defensive technique to just get in behind it every ball.
I’m not picking him to play like a traditional Test match opener or to be a dasher, I’m picking him to go and play like Jason Roy.