Even as he walked in for the post-match media interaction on Wednesday night, wearing the team colours, the tattoo on his left arm was clearly visible. As the shutterbugs tried clicking his pictures, even the tattoo didn’t go unnoticed.
That, however, had no effect on Jason Roy, who went on answering questions with a smile on his face. After hammering a 44-ball unbeaten 78 and guiding England to the final of the World T20, it was after all, his moment to bask in the glory.
On field, the South Africa-born batsman had set the tone for their innings, striking four boundaries in the first over from Corey Anderson. Back home, his teammates at Surrey love calling him the next Kevin Pietersen for his aggressive style and charismatic talent. Roy pulled off his first T20 half-century playing the way he likes. “When you get off to a good start, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just keep going. I did keep going and got a bit lucky,” the 25-year-old said.
So what if he is yet to don the white flannels, Roy is considered the next big thing in English cricket. Even he is aware of it, and perhaps that’s why he loves keeping things simple. “My philosophy is to watch the ball, find gaps in the field, and hit the boundaries,” he smiled, adding that it has been so since the early days.
In this edition of the World T20, England’s hopes have been pinned on three cricketers, who aren’t England born. While captain Eoin Morgan played for his native Ireland before shifting allegiance to England in 2009, Ben Stokes was born in New Zealand. Roy is the third. So in the end, if they finally clinch the title at Eden Gardens on Sunday, England will have to thank the three ‘imports’.
But Roy isn’t bothered by that. Over the moon with his terrific form, the soft-spoken gentleman agreed that he loves taking challenges head on. “You want to give yourself a chance, but when you get off to a good start, you just want to keep going. I got lucky with a few boundaries, hit a few gaps. One minute I was there and the next I was out,” he said, pointing out that the idea was to go out there and smash every ball. “Sometimes you go out there and struggle in the first 10 balls, but there are exceptions as well.”
Coming out all guns blazing, the youngster, however, wasn’t ready to take all the credit. “Obviously it wasn’t just me. The bowlers were outstanding towards the end, their skill sets were amazing. I’m proud to be involved,” he added.
After the initial jitters in the tournament, the English cricketers took time to adapt to the conditions and play their natural game. In the long run, that approach has helped them. “We go out and do what we practice. If it works then great, if not, that’s okay. We’ll have bad days and good days, but it’s gone our way for the last few days,” Roy said, hoping to keep the momentum going in Sunday’s final at the Eden Gardens.
“We’re getting better with every game. It just happens to be at Eden Gardens in the World Cup final in front of 1,00,000 people. It’s going to be an incredible experience, but we are going to go out there and play our natural way,” he said.
Coming into the tournament as the ‘underdogs’, England have slowly and steadily taken the forward march, and that’s what would drive them in the final fling too!
Eoin Morgan (29)
Born in Dublin, the batsman made his international debut for Ireland in 2006, and played for three years, before shifting allegiance to England in 2009. Since then, he played a key role in the limited overs and went on to become the captain.
Ben Stokes (24)
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, the all-rounder moved to England at the age of 12. He plays for Durham in the domestic league and is known for his aggressive style of play. Though his parents have moved back to Christchurch, Stokes has settled down in England.
Jason Roy (25)
Born in Durban, the aggressive batsman shifted base to England at the age of 10. With his style resembling South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen, he’s considered the next big thing for England cricket. He plays for Pietersen’s former county team, Surrey.