Jason Roy handed Cricket World Cup hope after latest painful squad snub

Hope: Jason Roy  (Getty Images)
Hope: Jason Roy (Getty Images)

England have left the World Cup door open to Jason Roy as a possible reserve after the batter suffered the “hammer blow” of being axed on the eve of a second successive major tournament.

Roy was named in a 15-man provisional squad last month but missed all four matches of the recent New Zealand series with back spasms and was yesterday dropped in favour of Harry Brook.

Brook will now be rested for the three-match series against Ireland that starts at Headingley on Wednesday, but Joe Root will be added to what is otherwise a second-string side for that match as he searches for 50-over form.

Discussing England’s finalised squad this morning, national selector Luke Wright revealed that Jofra Archer will be the only formal reserve to travel to India as he continues his recovery from a stress fracture of the elbow, while other players put on standby will be left at home and spared the trip until they are needed.

Those could include Roy, who Wright confirmed had been in line to start the World Cup opening the batting alongside Jonny Bairstow until Dawid Malan’s player of the series display against the Black Caps in his absence forced a rethink.

Harry Brook has got the nod. (Getty Images)
Harry Brook has got the nod. (Getty Images)

“Talk about taking an opportunity with both hands,” Wright said of Malan, who made 277 runs in three innings, including a fifth ODI century since the start of last summer. “He was absolutely outstanding.

“We realised things had slightly changed and Dawid would be the one opening the batting with Jonny in the World Cup. Then really it was a case of the spare batter and what did that look like? From Jason’s point of view, he probably only covers us for an opener. Harry gives us that cover from No1 to No6.”

Roy, who was also dropped in the build-up to last year’s T20 World Cup success, was informed of the decision in a phone-call from captain Jos Buttler yesterday. The 33-year-old hinted in an interview earlier this month that his international career could come to an end following the autumn’s tournament and it now seems entirely possible that a genuine England white-ball great may have played his last game for his country.

However, Wright insisted that Roy would remain selectors’s preference to come into the squad were one of Bairstow or Malan to suffer an injury, provided he is willing to remain on standby.

“As reserve batter at top of the order, we’ve made it very clear that we still see him as the man to do that,” Wright added. “We’ve spoken to him about that and he has time to reflect over the next few days. It is obviously not an easy pill to swallow.

“The earlier response was that he’s still available for England. Now unless that’s changed, at the moment that’s how we see it. So for a top order reserve batter then Jason is going to be our man.”

Teams do not have to submit their squads until September 28 and England did have the option of giving Roy the upcoming Ireland series to prove his form and fitness before making a final decision.

However, while the Surrey batter has still been offered the chance to play some part in those matches, Wright said he was keen to give those players being rested ahead of the World Cup the clarity that their places were secure.

“We’ve given Jason the option,” Wright said of his potential involvement against Ireland. “To get the news that he was missing out on the World Cup all came as a bit of a hammer-blow, so we’ve left that with Jason. The first game at Headingley has come too soon but there is still the option of those last two games.

“We had to be aware that guys are flying to India the day after that Ireland series so we wanted to let guys know before going off for a few days’ rest, without that indecision or who is going and who is not. We wanted to take that out of the equation.”

Root will play the opener on his home ground on Wednesday, having looked out of sorts against New Zealand in making scores of 6, 0, 4 and 29.

“It’s getting that rhythm of playing 50-over cricket,” Wright said. “We don’t play much in this country and someone like Joe hasn’t played much of it recently. He just wanted a bit more time.

“It shows what makes him such a world-class player that when he doesn’t feel quite right that he still wants to tinker and do more. As much as we thought he probably needed a break, he just wanted another go.”