How do you set the tone for a series to come as an opening batsman? It's almost an impossible job. You want to see the ball scorching through the covers for four, but at the same time, you know how much your wicket is valued by the opposition.
Jason Roy knows only too well about the predicament that faces an opening batsman of the first ball of a series. Not too long ago Roy faced this same predicament and was dismissed off the first ball of his One-Day International Career, yesterday he glided the first ball gracefully through square leg for four.
How times change
Roy's dismissal off the first ball of that New Zealand series in 2015 came at a time when England were coming off the humiliation of a First Round exit at the Cricket World Cup.
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People were uncertain, afraid and mindful of this setback, and Roy getting out off the first ball of the series did nothing to qualm those fears. Now, England have recorded their highest ever one-day total overseas and Roy was at the forefront of that.
His cover drives were beautifully brutal, he timed the ball through the leg-side with such effortlessness that hasn't been seen since David Gower.
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His innings in the First ODI was not that substantial compared with the exploits of Jos Buttler, but it was arguably just as important, as there is no harder job in sports than setting the tone correctly for a brilliant performance.
The thing with Roy though is that he does not just set the tone for a big performance like Alex Hales, he sets the tone with a panache and style rarely ever seen in an English cricketer. His shots through the leg-side bring back memories of the great VVS Laxman, his cover drives remind us of Ian Bell, even when he launches into his more brutal side his stroke-making retains that beautiful timing of his.
The transformation of Roy, from the man who sheepishly walked up past the members at Lord's eight months ago to the confident and elegant batsman of now who has drawn support from some quarters of gaining a Test position, almost mirrors the turn in fortune for England's ODI team.
Where once England's one-day side lacked the aggression and panache to cope with sides like Australia and South Africa they now boast perhaps the deepest and most explosive batting line-up in the world.
Their squad is littered with talent ranging from Buttler to Joe Root to Roy, and is even strong enough that they are able to leave out men such as James Taylor and Stuart Broad.
It is of almost no coincidence that when Roy fires, England perform. When Roy has made his top five scores, England have come out as victors four times. The platform he creates as an opener has not only spurred him onto new heights but has been the catalyst for improved performances by Buttler, Root and Ben Stokes.
It is on these platforms that Buttler has managed to get three of England's five fastest hundreds in ODI cricket in the last year. Trevor Bayliss' side are scaling heights that have never been climbed by any previous English team, records are being shattered, and it would not be without reason to consider this youthful England side as favourites for the next World Cup on home soil.
They will have setbacks as a side, days where their huge batting order does not fire and they capitulate for 180 in 30 overs, but as they continue on to the World Cup and Champions Trophy there will be more days like the First ODI where they rack up 400 with seeming ease.
Roy will be at the forefront of this onslaught on the established powers of One Day cricket, it seems only a matter of time before he becomes England's first ever double centurion in One Day Internationals. Players of his capability and effervescence come only once in a lifetime let's enjoy him while he is here.
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