Seven months ago, Jason Roy was cast out from England’s one-day side after six single figure scores in eight innings.
The previous summer, he’d had a crack at breaking England’s one-day record score only to see his opening partner Alex Hales set the new mark of 171 at Trent Bridge.
But Hales’ misadventure alongside Ben Stokes one September night in Bristol unexpectedly re-opened the door for Roy.
“This has been a while coming,” he said of his new England record ODI score of 180. “I had a very tough year in 2017 and being dropped from the side gave me a bit of a kick. You do start questioning yourself and your preparation.”
He says he’s not doing much different, other than trying to play the ball later. If anything, the opposite looked true at the MCG. “He chanced his arm,” said Steve Smith, Australia’s captain. If that sounds damning with faint praise, it wasn’t. Smith called Roy’s 180 “an exceptional innings”.
Smith was admiring of England’s go-hard-or-go-home strategy and acknowledged that his side, which unlike the Test team, is still finding its true identity.
England have to be up there as one of the best sides in the world,” he said. “They go hard at the top and Root is the rock in the middle. Guys bat around him. It’s something we might have to think about.”
Indeed, Michael Clarke, Smith’s predecessor as skipper, pondered on television that Australia lack a one-day finisher in the mould of Michael Bevan or Mike Hussey.
Smith also acknowledged that the pace of Mark Wood was a significant factor, though he felt the pace of the pitch was more so.
Roy had a slightly different take. “To give them a bit of their own medicine was quite nice,” he said. “Obviously the boys have copped it a bit over the last month and to see Woody coming in and doing that is a huge positive for us. He’s a massive asset.”
Overall, though, Roy’s historic innings – and the victory – has lifted the gloom that hung over the England camp after the Ashes.
Roy said: “To be at the MCG and get a score like that in the first game of the series incredibly special – it’s an absolute honour to be honest.
“It is extremely special, especially after the Test series which was quite tough and we knew the boys would be a bit down.
“It was our job to lighten the mood and bring some positivity. We’ve done that and there are a lot more smiles around the place now.”