Less than two months after former English goalkeeper Alec Stewart assisted Jason Roy to open the English game during the ashes, he has turned his attitude towards the top-performing striker bang on his head.
Roy was a unanimous choice after a spectacular ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019, when his 443 runs, with an average of 63.28 and a strike rate of 115.36, had a direct, positive impact on the English campaign.
The 29-year-old, however, has struggled to repeat this form against the swinging red ball. After six Ashes games run a total of 57 runs. But while he still seems to be in England’s red-ball plans, a downward move in the order could be imminent, and Stewart supported this change.
“I think we all agree that Jason should not open,” Stewart told Sky Sports. “We all said, ‘Look, he’s got a great World Cup, so can we get him into the friendly?’
“We said he would make mistakes, and if he opens, we should not overburden him if he plays offensively because we know this will happen, but as soon as Joe Root said he would go to (number 3) ‘In my opinion, Denly would be at the top and Jason Roy would get in at four or five, which was the sensible way to do it, but they did not.’
Stewart thought about the options ahead of England. It was suggested by some to change Roy against Denly in the sequence, but Denly was barely successful in his current position as No.4, making it a problematic solution. Aside from his second innings fifty in Headingley, Denly has had some launches, but so far nothing substantial has been done.
Stewart also suggested names like Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley. Sibley, the 23-year-old Surrey-born batsman, has led Warwickshire’s Run Charts in Division 1 Division 1, scoring 949 runs for the 55.82 season, including a top-notch of 244. Crawley was also solid form Kent, 716 runs at 37.68.
“So you’re going to shoot Denly and Roy now?” Stewart asked. “Then you look at Denly, he’s stuck, but he’s also tested from the top down – shoulder to head – and he did not play that well, so if you suddenly say Roy will not play, you’ll put Denly up there and Jason jumps down or you hold Denly where he is, drop Jason and bring in a Dominic Sibley or a Zak Crawley?
“Dominic Sibley has earned the right weight from runs in county cricket, but even here, the stranger goes, because these guys do not see enough short, fast bowling in county cricket.”