Jason Roy inspires England to victory in Australia
After nearly three months of Ashes pain Down Under Joe Root was able to sport a winning smile again as Jason Roy produced a record breaking 180 that steered his side to a morale boosting five wicket victory, and finally silenced those crowing Aussies.
Cheeky billboards around these parts had taunted the tourists with a message reading : ‘Why can’t the Poms open wine? Because they don’t have any openers!’
Brilliant Roy made a nonsense of that.
Supported by a superb unbeaten 91 from Root, who had preferred Roy’s fellow Surrey opener, Mark Stoneman, instead of him for the Test team, England’s man of the moment set about England’s Ashes conquerors with no sign of the fear that haunted the senior side.
And he broke a string of records along the way.
Roy’s innings is the highest individual one day knock ever, beating Mark Waugh’s 173 in 2000/1. It also beat Alex Hales’ English one day record of 171. And it was also the highest scored by an Englishman against Australia in one-day internationals.
No wonder Root led the standing ovation when Mitchell Starc finally ended Roy’s match-winning effort.
It was a joy to watch on a day that got off to the perfect start – and just kept on getting better.
Mark Wood, three ankle operations and countless injury problems later, came back with a bang – and the prized wicket of David Warner for just two in his first over.
Jason Roy hit 180 as England overcame the Aussies
The Durham paceman had already greeted the gritty Warner with a bouncer for starters, and then tempted him to sky one to Root four balls later. After the Ashes debacle that was like a very good penny from Heaven for England’s suffering Test skipper.
It fired up Wood as well, and his seventh ball was delivered at more than 92mph, the second fastest delivery for England on the entire tour
He also thought he had Steve Smith lbw, but the umpire’s finger stayed down.
Wood’s pace briefly troubled the Australians rather more than Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad did in the Test matches – a significant reminder, if one was needed, for those whose job it will be to come up with a serious plan of action for next Ashes series in these parts.
But just when it seemed as though Aaron Finch and Smith had weathered the storm up popped Adel Rashid with the Aussie captain’s precious wicket.
Smith, a rather less than gracious victor throughout Australia’s triumphant Ashes canter, got his come uppence as far as England might have been concerned, gifting a rare wayward chance that Josh Buttler gratefully accepted.
Not the way you would have expected the bullish Smith to get out, but at that point English eyes smiled as much as they had done ever since they arrived here last November.
And it stayed that way for another Englishman left at home for the Ashes Tests when Liam Plunkett got Travis Head trying to drive, but who instead dragged the ball onto his wicket. At 78 for three the tourists really started to experience a rare feelgood factor.
Trouble was, Finch seemed untroubled by anything they threw at him and celebrated with a mighty six off Rashid the next ball after reaching 50.
Jason Roy stuck it to the Aussies as England finally got a win
After his disappointing Ashes series Moeen Ali still seemed intent on sacrificing spin for speed as well, and that didn’t appear to work any better yesterday than it did – or didn’t – in the five previous encounters with the Australians.
Mitchell Marsh, carrying on where he so impressively left off in Sydney, then duly punished Ali with another soaring six that went 97 metres into the stand before the ball got lost for a while on its way back down!
That, as it happened, proved as good as it got for England for the time being as Marsh teamed up with Finch to continue the rich vein of form that so tormented Root’s team.
Finch then celebrated his well nigh faultless century with another mighty six off Rashid.
He and Marsh plundered their century plus partnership with the minimum of trouble. The proceedings were looking a tad familiar.
But thankfully the deja vue pain ended on 196 when Finch tried one big hit too many and went for 107, caught by Jonny Bairstow off the previously luckless Ali.
You would like to think it was the bearded boy’s bowling that did it, but truth to tell Finch probably just got over confident!
The same could be said for Marsh who simply failed to read a relatively innocuous delivery from Rashid straight after completing his 10th half century in ODIs.
Eoin Morgan’s men breathed a collective sigh of relief.
But the Aussies always seem to have had something in reserve this winter – so enter the big hitting Marcus Stoinis this time.
Eoin Morgan’s side got off to the perfect start in the ODIs
The Western Australian, still grieving for his father who died aged only 60 in November, put that behind him yesterday to plunder 60 runs just when his country needed them.
No wonder Root looked mighty relieved to end that with a catch off Chris Woakes who had toiled unsuccessfully for a wicket before that.
Tim Paine and Pat Cummins departed in quick succession, but at 304 for 8 at the finish England looked to be facing yet another mountain to climb.
In the end it didn’t even look like a little hillock!
How Root must have wondered what might have been as Roy and Bairstow got England off to a flyer that brought 50 runs in five overs – until JB went and blew it.
A totally reckless swipe to a wide ball from Starc – who Roy had been hitting all over the place just before – and a nicked edge was meat and drink to Paine.
Enter Alex Hails, coming in out of the cold after that ill fated night on the town with Ben Stokes, to start an innings that had ‘in need of redemption’ written all over it.
The big fella failed with a miserable four after lofting a simple catch to Stoinis off Cummins.
You could have forgiven England’s loyal followers for thinking “here we go again!”
But while there was an R – Roy and Root, that is – there was always hope. And Jason duly justified that by reaching his 50 in double quick time and still with more than 40 overs to play with at the time!
But even with a new skipper old England habits struggled to die hard as the pair of them got stuck in their creases at one stage and the boundaries dried up for 10 overs and more than half a hour.
We needn’t have worried. Roy stuck to the task like the overnight hero he became when he finally got his first one day hundred against Australia at just before 8.30pm Aussie time.
His display of sheer delight was understandable – as was the hug of apparent gratitude Root gave him as well. This was truly a moment to savour after so many weeks of misery.
Brisbane is the next stop – and you can hardly blame England for smelling victory there as well.