By Sam Drury, Sky Sports News
“Before the Champions Trophy, I went to the IPL, I had a lot going on, I was a bit all over the place”
This is a huge summer for English cricket.
It is a fact that no England player could possibly forget. Not least because they have been reminded of it in just about every interview they have done in the past six months.
Those reminders will only become more frequent and more pointed in the next six weeks leading up to the start of the World Cup.
England are favourites for the World Cup and the Ashes series that follows. Make no mistake, expectations are sky high and the pressure is on.
As far as Jason Roy is concerned though, that is no bad thing, especially for a white-ball team that emerged from the embers after England had repeatedly found ways to torch their chances before their flame tamely petered out during a disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign.
“It’s a weird thing really because as we came together four years ago there was just that feeling of such equality, working hard, a team ethos and everyone was out to help each other,” he told Sky Sports.
“Now, four years down the line, we’re the No 1 team in the world. We’ve gone out there and played a good brand of cricket, worked hard, trained hard, had a good captain, trusted everyone’s process, we’re very honest and then all of a sudden, we’re No 1!
“I think that expectation is going to be good for us as well because England is a team that goes through the processes of putting in the right foundations and [if we do that] then we’ll win.”
The progress of the team has been startling and should not be taken for granted but Roy knows only too well that the journey to this point has not been without setbacks. The most notable for both him, and the team as a whole, being the 2017 Champions Trophy.
England crashed out in the semi-finals after a comprehensive defeat to Pakistan with Roy dropped for the match in Cardiff after scoring just 31 runs in six innings at the tournament.
Lessons were learned though and disappointing as it was, the experience has helped inform the way Roy is preparing for this year’s tournament.
“That was a huge reason why I didn’t go into the IPL auction. Obviously, that coincided with the birth of my first child, so it was a case of concentrating, staying at home, working hard on my family life and then working hard in the nets for the World Cup.
“Before the Champions Trophy, I went to the IPL, I had a lot going on, I was a bit all over the place. I played three games out of the seven that I was there and I just mentally wasn’t in a good place.
“Whereas now, I feel in a really, really good place.”
That is certainly showing on the pitch with four ODI centuries in the past 15 months since reclaiming his place in the side, leading to calls for Roy to be drafted in to the Test side in time for the Ashes.
He batted at No 3 for Surrey in the County Championship at the end of last summer, scoring a century against Essex in September, and then again for England Lions in the UAE, where he made 59 against Pakistan A.
James Vince has moved up to open for Hampshire as he tries to press his claims for a Test recall, so as Surrey begin the defence of their Championship crown this week, is that something Roy would consider doing?
“It’s whatever the team wants really, Surrey aren’t just going to chuck me up the order and make me open when it’s not the best thing to do for the team.
“I think I’ll probably still bat three but again, I don’t know, whatever the gaffer wants me to do, I’ll do it.
“Yeah, I want to push for a Test spot but I also want to win for Surrey. So it’s not all about England, individually it might be, but as a team we want to win for Surrey. Whatever is best for the team, I’ll do it.”
The frustration for Roy is that he may have to wait until July for a chance to play red-ball cricket with a hamstring injury threatening to rule him out of Surrey’s County Championship opener against Essex, starting on Thursday.
That could mean his first red-ball innings of the year also being his first in Test cricket as England take on Ireland at Lord’s, little over a week before the first Ashes Test.
That is still more than three months away though, the World Cup is seven weeks away, the immediate focus for Roy is Surrey, and 28-year-old believes this could be a special summer for the club.
“We’ve got some good characters, good personalities and some incredible talent. I think they’ll actually really enjoy this added expectation, if you will.