London, England National Selector Ed Smith backed Jason Roy to have a successful start to his Test career, after the latter played an integral role in England’s historic triumph at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. Roy is set to play the one-off Test against Ireland at Lord’s next week and later in the first Ashes Test to be played at Edgbaston beginning August 1. The opening batsman had a successful World Cup, scoring 443 runs in seven innings and was named in the Team of the Tournament.
Smith believed that Roy is now a “more complete player than he has ever been”, adding that his inclusion in England’s Test team had been a long-term goal. “I think we’ve all seen him grow and improve as a player in white-ball cricket,” Smith said. “There’s never been any doubt about his talent, audacity or his presence at the crease – it’s fantastic. He’s also gained improved mastery and adaptability. I think he’s a more complete player now than he ever has been. It just felt like absolutely the right time for Jason to make his Test debut.”
“It’s no great secret the selectors have long been admirers of Jason. The big question with Jason Roy was when was the ideal time if he was going to make the move into Test cricket? Joe Root and I spoke at length months ago about the scenario in which Jason Roy finished the World Cup confident, full of runs and went straight into the Ashes and that’s what we’ve done. It feels like a really good time for Jason to join the Test team as an opener. He’s in and has our full backing,” Smith said.
Smith’s selection panel has not been afraid to draft players into the Test team on the back of successful performances in the shorter formats. Smith reminisced the decision to rope in Jos Butler against India last summer, adding that it is important to bring someone into the team when they are full of confidence, regardless of the format, an ICC report on Thursday said.
“Going back to that first decision last May when coming in as selector it just felt like exactly the right time for Jos to come back into the Test team,” Smith said. “Although I wouldn’t compare them because they are very different players and different people, in the same way it feels like the right time for Jason. He’s playing very well, growing and developing all the time and it’s an exciting prospect for us.” A maiden World Cup title is reason for much cheer in the England camp, but Smith stressed that the team needed to build on that success, with no room for complacency, especially with the Ashes on the horizon.
“There is a challenge to build and grow on that rather than to say that is the full stop on the end of the sentence,” added Smith. “One thing we really want to do is develop this end of English cricket and not let it peter out but to push on from here. The same degree of attention, clarity and rigour we tried to bring to World Cup selection, we have also brought to Ashes selection.”