Jason Roy's shock omission from England's 15-man squad for the 2023 World Cup may well have brought the curtain down on a remarkable international career, one in which his commitment to aggression from the outset of every innings helped to set the agenda for his team, and deliver a level of white-ball glory that England had never before known. Here, we look back on eight key moments that defined his eight-year career
Has there ever been a more important first-ball duck than the one with which Roy launched his international career? Granted, he would prefer to have smoked Trent Boult's fourth-stump inswinger clean through the covers rather than slapping it straight to point ("I felt like a bus had hit me," he later admitted). But in terms of the message that his stroke conveyed to England's rebooted team, it could not, in fact, have been more perfect. Roy knew that he had licence to fail because he had been backed to succeed, as did his team-mates looking on from the dressing-room. In their first full fixture since the 2015 World Cup debacle, Eoin Morgan had promised each of his players an extended run in the side in exchange for utter commitment to attacking cricket. Roy's intent didn't come off on this occasion, but his team-mates closed ranks around him to power England past 400 for the first time in their ODI history.
Maiden century sets Buttler's stage
It took Roy a few months to land his most telling blows at the top of England's order, although three half-centuries in his first 13 innings, at a strike-rate in excess of 101, was hardly evidence of a man playing himself in. But then came an astonishing tag-team of an innings against Pakistan in Dubai, at which point the limits of England's ambitions truly demanded reappraisal. Roy's own contribution was a maiden international hundred, 102 from 117 balls all told, an innings that kept a fine Pakistan attack at bay right up until the 36th over, as he and Joe Root carried the score to 194 for 2 with a second-wicket stand of 140 from 146 balls. But then, with the platform set at close to a run a ball, out strode Jos Buttler to unleash an unforgettable finale. Ten fours and eight sixes later, Buttler had posted 118 not out from 52 balls all told, including a century from 46, still England's fastest. It was utter vindication of England's pedal-to-the-metal approach.
He's long since been surplus to England's T20I plans, and missed their triumph in Australia last winter. But if ever there was an innings that epitomised Roy's never-say-die attitude at the top of the white-ball order, it came on a balmy night at the World T20 in Mumbai, in a simply astonishing run-chase against South Africa. England were wide-eyed rookies at that year's event, barely a year into their reboot and content to soak up the experience rather than present themselves as the frontrunners they would become in later campaigns. But when, after England were thumped by Chris Gayle in their opening fixture at the Wankhede, South Africa racked up a massive 229 for 4 at the same venue, an early elimination seemed the only plausible upshot. Instead, Roy strode out in the powerplay to lash 21 runs off Kagiso Rabada's opening over, and with Alex Hales catching the mood, Dale Steyn's follow-up was dispatched for 23. Roy powered along to 43 from 16 all told, setting the scene for Root's masterful 83 from 44, in what remains England's highest T20I run-chase.
The Champions Trophy in 2017 was England's World Cup dress-rehearsal - a home campaign at the halfway mark of the cycle, and with the burden of expectation just beginning to rear its head after so many years of white-ball under-achievement. And it just so happened to coincide with a catastrophic loss of form for Roy. In the weeks before the tournament, he mustered 33 runs from 65 balls in five innings against Ireland and South Africa, but Morgan was adamant that he was not about to lose faith with his main man at this critical moment of their evolution. Waiting in the wings was Jonny Bairstow - as with Dawid Malan in recent months, the ceiling for entry into England's first XI was so high that even three fifties in Bairstow's previous four innings couldn't persuade the selectors. But then, after Roy managed just 18 runs in three group-stage games, including 4 from two balls against Australia, Morgan finally bit the bullet for the semi-final against Pakistan. It would end up being a chastening loss - and a rare example of England scraping to a score instead of going out in a blaze - but Bairstow at least fared better than most with 43 from 57 balls. It was an opportunity that he would never relinquish.
Record at the MCG
Roy's return to England colours came in dramatic fashion, following Hales' suspension for his involvement in the incident that led to Ben Stokes' arrest outside a Bristol nightclub. But irrespective of the circumstances, Roy seized the chance to remind the team what they'd been missing, making 84 and 96 in the two remaining ODIs against West Indies. He then travelled Down Under in the new year for perhaps the most significant test yet of England's burgeoning credentials. The Test team had just been demolished 4-0 in a deeply one-sided Ashes, but from the get-go at the MCG, Roy made it clear that the white-ball guys were a wholly different proposition. Set a theoretically imposing 305 for victory, Roy slammed an England-record 180 from 151 balls, including 40 from 21 in a frenzied powerplay onslaught, to lead their cruise to victory with seven balls remaining.
Much to England's chagrin, they missed out on a chance to seal a 5-0 whitewash in Australia after a spectacular implosion - 8 for 5 and all that - on a lively deck in Adelaide. Back on home soil the following summer, however, they made formidable amends, with Roy's mid-series run of 120, 84 (in a world-record total of 481 for 6) and 101 central to the cause. The best of these was his second hundred, from 83 balls all told, in the face of a determined Australia target of 311, built on twin centuries from Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh. It was nowhere near enough, as England clattered home with a massive 32 balls to spare. "There's nowhere to hide in this game," Finch said afterwards. "We are playing the best in the world."
Back for must-win contest
After his traumas in 2017, Roy made it his mission to be at the absolute peak of his form going into the 2019 World Cup. From the moment he blasted 123 from 85 balls in Bridgetown to hunt down a massive 361 against West Indies in February, to the final fling from deep midwicket at Lord's that sealed the World Cup final Super Over, Roy romped to a formidable haul of 845 runs at 70.41, with three hundreds, six fifties and an extraordinary strike-rate of 118.18. But then, in an otherwise routine group-stage win over West Indies in Southampton, Roy tore his hamstring and was forced onto the sidelines for three critical contests. England outgunned Afghanistan in his absence, but consecutive losses against Sri Lanka and Australia left their campaign on a knife-edge. Desperate for victory over India at Edgbaston to stay in the semi-final running, he was rushed back to the fray even though Morgan admitted he wouldn't ordinarily be risked. His response was a thunderous 66 from 57 balls, in an opening stand of 160 with Bairstow, whose century ultimately put England's total of 337 for 7 out of reach.
Australia had spent the previous year being alpha-ed by England at home and away, but the defending champions had once again shown themselves to be a different proposition on the biggest stage. After condemning England to a crushing 64-run group-stage loss, and having lost just one knockout game in 20 years, spanning five previous tournaments, the prospect of a semi-final rematch could have been considered mildly daunting to a less focused team. England however flew out of the blocks with ball and then bat. Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer wrecked Australia in the powerplay, reducing them to 14 for 3, and then - after a cussed 85 from Steve Smith had set England a modest target of 223 - Roy set his sights firmly on the final. He was initially cautious against Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff, who had shared nine wickets in the Lord's win, but after limiting himself to 1 from his first ten balls, he clicked thereafter into overdrive. Nine fours and five sixes later, he'd chewed up two-thirds of the target inside 20 overs, only to be sawn off on 85 by a shocking caught-behind decision. Nevertheless, there would be no let-up, as England booked their date with destiny.