Jason Roy's struggles raise questions over when England look beyond World Cup-winning players

Like the rest of England's stuttering top order, Roy faces a challenge from younger players such as Tom Banton, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope

Jason Roy's England summer ended with a first-ball duck
Jason Roy's England summer ended with a first-ball duck Credit: AP

Sky quickly apologised to viewers who heard Jason Roy’s reaction to being dismissed first ball. His expletive was swiftly followed by the sound of  bat hitting something hard as he walked through the door of the England dressing room.

The frustration of a first ball duck must feel even more acute in your final innings of the summer after weeks locked away from family in a biobubble, especially for Roy who has endured a lean run of form and injury.

England would not have won the World Cup without Roy. His injury in the tournament coincided with a slump that almost knocked them out in the group stage. The extent of his grade two hamstring tear was hushed up at the time but it should have ruled him out the rest of the tournament. Instead, a patched up Roy returned and fired England to the final. 

The question now for England is how long does a World Cup legacy last? When is it time to start looking beyond the players that delivered such a momentous tournament win? Liam Plunkett was dumped immediately, but of the 11 who played at Lord’s on July 14 last year nine were playing at Emirates Old Trafford on Wednesday and it would have been ten had it not been for Ben Stokes going back to New Zealand to spend time with his seriously ill father. Stokes, amazingly, has not played an ODI since the World Cup final. Buttler, who shared that stand with him, is averaging only four in ODI cricket since then, admittedly from only three games.

There are only 32 ODIs scheduled for England between now and the start of the 2023 World Cup in India. There is little time to experiment or dither over selection. One of England’s tactics between the 2015-2019 tournaments was to identify a group of players and give them experience. History told them that on average World Cup winners had around 90 caps so they picked players and stuck with them for four years.

England played 88 matches between the 2015-19 World Cups and started last year’s tournament with a well drilled, experienced side that adapted to conditions and won. 

But since then England’s top order has not shaped up to its high standards. Roy is averaging 12 in 50 over cricket; Joe Root 21 and Morgan 35. Jonny Bairstow has been inconsistent but showed his determination while playing badly against Australia on Sunday to stay in and grind out a fifty that laid the groundwork for Wednesday's hundred. 

The question now is whether Roy still has the hunger to lift himself for a run to the next World Cup and the motivation to stay on through the cycle to the next tournament. He decided to skip the IPL to spend time at home with his family. Roy is experienced enough now to know how to get the best out of himself but he has passed up a chance to play and improve in Asian conditions.

England are loyal so he will retain his central contract but the adage that this white ball batting line up is impossible to break into is wearing thin.

Tom Banton is among the younger players applying pressure on Roy Credit: GETTY IMAGES

In Tom Banton, Roy has a rival already in the squad. But outside it lies the player who should be given a chance in those 32 games left before the World Cup starts in India (Covid permitting) in 2023.

Zak Crawley is a fine player of spin, brilliant at finding gaps and running hard. He has returned to Kent and made runs in the Vitality Blast, scoring his first Twenty20 century this week. 

Crawley is an option opening for England, especially in Asia where spin will be deployed in the powerplay. He should play this winter.

England were keen to give Ollie Pope a chance to play 50 over cricket  but his shoulder injury prevented that happening. It is a shame. Pope started out for Surrey in T20 cricket, and has given glimpses in his Test batting of his ability to play unorthodox white ball shots. 

Dawid Malan has been unlucky to play only one ODI but at 33 he is not a realistic contender for the next World Cup. Neither is Joe Denly at 35 and the experiment with him must be over now when the likes of Crawley, Banton and Pope (when fit) are knocking around.

Roy will be 33 at the next World Cup. which is not over the hill by any means. He has batted selflessly for England and has been one of the world’s best white ball openers in the world. But he faces a challenge from younger, hungry players and the glow of the 2019 win is cooling.