Jason Roy says England’s batsmen have “a bee in their bonnet” after two lacklustre outings against Australia.
The tourists go into Tuesday’s Twenty20 against New Zealand having been summarily dispatched by Australia in Hobart and Melbourne, where the bowlers were left defending slender scores of 155 and 137.
There is more at stake than pride or a point to prove, though, with the tri-series format lending a competitive edge often absent from international T20s – which frequently show up apologetically at the end of tours and sit in stark contrast to glitzy domestic tournaments.
With Australia already assured of their place in the Auckland final later this month only one of England or the Black Caps can join them, and Roy insists there is a hunger in the camp to give a better account of themselves at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
“We’ve under-performed as a team and because of that we’ve got a bee in our bonnet,” said the opener.
“We want to make sure the next game is a strong performance. It’s not just about being aggressive and hitting the ball out of the park, it’s recognising we have got the firepower and being smarter with it.
“Playing aggressive cricket, an aggressive brand and all that, that’s not just what we’re about. In the past we’ve played a lot smarter cricket. It’s been hugely frustrating because of the line-up we’ve got.”
That line-up could once again include James Vince in place of captain Eoin Morgan, who has been sidelined with a groin injury.
Morgan was ruled out at the MCG on Saturday and did not bat in the nets during England’s pre-game practice session at Basin Reserve – a clear sign that he is not yet pain free and may once again pass the reins to Jos Buttler.
There is, of course, another high-profile, longer-term absentee from the England XI: Ben Stokes.
He has not been seen in England colours for almost five months, following a late night incident which culminated in a police investigation and a charge of affray.
The England and Wales Cricket Board had initially pencilled this fixture in as a possible comeback date for its box office all-rounder, who will instead spend his Tuesday in Bristol Magistrates’ Court.
More should be known after his appearance about his future legal commitments and likely availability.
“There hasn’t been any chat about it if I’m honest,” said Roy, when asked for the team perspective.
“It’s out of our hands and has been for the last few months. He’s a great asset to our side obviously, not just on the park but off the field as well with his positivity.
“It would be great to have him here but who knows what will happen. He’s been missed the whole Ashes, the one-day series, the T20s – he’s a star player and extremely important to us. There’s no shying away from that. It will be good to have him back, hopefully.”
It is only a matter of weeks since Roy’s 180 in Melbourne set a new English record for 50-over cricket but he has had a leaner time in the sprint format, dismissed in single-figures in his last four innings.
“I’ve under-performed in quite a few of my last T20 games which has been hugely frustrating,” he noted.
“I’m a pretty honest bloke with myself, especially in where I’m at, so I know that the next few games are hugely important. I don’t know where I’ve kind of been at the last two games. I just need to play stronger shots.”
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