Kumar Sangakkara has termed the breathtaking run of Jason Roy, his former Surrey teammate, against Australia as ‘just the start’, predicting bigger things for the right-hand opening batsman who has made two hundreds and a half-century in four One-Day Internationals over the last 10 days.
Roy slammed 101 in England’s fourth straight win in Durham on Thursday (June 21), putting the hosts 4-0 up with a game to go. That score came on the back of 120 in Cardiff and 82 in the record-breaking 481 for 6 at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
Roy had been a bit of an under-achiever at international level, averaging a lowly 21.80 in ten ODI innings prior to his century in Cardiff.
Sangakkara, the former Sri Lankan captain, told Sky Sports, “It’s been frustrating for him and Surrey that he has this power game but has never really adapted to being consistent and scored impactful innings one after the other.
“But the way he has worked his game out – he talked in the morning about being self-aware and mature – has got him to a stage where he is starting to realise how to construct innings. It’s not all about power – it’s about touch, batting in a partnership and taking responsibility, which are good signs for England and Roy.
“You don’t want Jason to be a player with immense talent who doesn’t fulfill it and I think this is just the start.”
Sangakkara said Roy had developed his own approach to his batting which was a good sign for England, who are shaping up into an extremely formidable batting entity.
“A lot of players blindly talk to other players and try out whatever advice is given but he has worked out a method and this is the blueprint he needs to work on,” observed Sangakkara.
“He used to hit beautiful shots to fielders and not think about running – he’d admire his position and miss singles and the pressure would mount on him to hit boundaries. Now he is hitting mid-off and mid-on with soft hands – his strike rotation has helped him immensely.”
Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, said Roy had worked on his mental approach to batting, and was now more in control of his shot-selection.
“Jason used to get a hundred and then go out in the next games, club it in the air and not start again,” said Hussain. “He would also get pretty thirties and forties and think he has to keep going at the same tempo.
“What he has done in this series is reined himself in at times, knocking it around against spin, and then gone hard again. He has been very smart.”
Hussain also opined that opening with Jonny Bairstow had proved beneficial to Roy. “[Alex] Hales would often take up 20 deliveries getting in and then catch up later on, so Jason felt he was the one that always had to take the aggressive route [when they opened together].
“But Bairstow is so fast scoring that one day it might be him [getting off to a flyer] and another day it might be Jason doing that. They dovetail well.
“Bairstow hits good balls for four and Roy belts bad balls for four and six – bowlers are always having to adjust their lengths.”
Fresh off his fruitful IPL stint with Rajasthan Royals, Jos Buttler has quickly taken over the mantle of England’s most valuable player, having regained his spot in the Test set-up and also scoring handsomely in ODI cricket for his side.
“He adapted beautifully to the conditions – it wasn’t the easiest wicket to settle in but he came in and made it look so easy,” Sangakkara said of Buttler, who slammed an unbeaten 54 off just 29 deliveries in Thursday’s successful chase of Australia’s 310 for 8.
“It was about good cricket shots, it was about trusting his game. He moves around the crease but what I love is that he is still and solid when he comes into his stroke.
“He is never out of position and can adapt to variations of pace, variations in the wicket. That is why, to me, he is the most important English player.”
Hussain added that Buttler was more than just a finisher. “It is absolutely vital he is not labelled the finisher,” he insisted. “A month or so ago, he was labelled ‘white-ball cricketer’, but look what he’s done in Test cricket. He can come in at No. 4 and get a hundred if England get off to a flyer.”