Jason Roy’s recent string of low scores might be a cause of concern for England in the build-up to the T20 World Cup. On the other hand, Alex Hales has been making waves with his performance in T20 leagues around the world, making a strong case for his inclusion in the England team by replacing Roy.
England has been one of the strongest sides in world cricket in recent years. They have especially been considered a powerhouse with an explosive batting line-up consistently propelling the run rate for them. The team completely shifted their approach after the 2015 World Cup and lifting the trophy in the 2019 edition was the end result of it for Eoin Morgan and co. Their batting lineup was capable of damaging the best of bowlers but recently, fans are witnessing a different picture. There is a slump in the form of the English team in white-ball cricket and batting has been a cause of concern for the team management.
A lot depends on the opening pair of the team for success in white-ball formats. For England, Jason Roy has been opening the innings for a long time. He has been crucial in giving good starts to the English team but he has been suffering a slump in form in recent times. This has been affecting the team’s form and England won eight T20Is and lost nine from the 17 matches they played. They also played nine ODIs including five victories and three losses since October 2021.
They lost the ODI and T20I series against India while they lost to South Africa in T20Is at home. They were all-out once in ODIs against South Africa before playing all the allotted overs while it occurred twice in T20Is while chasing. Indian bowlers troubled them more in the series before that getting all-out on multiple occasions. The template of being aggressive didn’t work and the failure of Jason Roy as an opener also played a role in it. Specifically, his form in T20Is has been dismal. Against India, he managed to score only 64 runs from three ODIs and 31 runs from three T20Is. His dismal form continued in the South Africa series where his numbers read 57 runs from three ODIs and 45 runs from three T20Is. He has scored 329 runs from 16 T20Is since October 2021 with a poor average of 21.93 and only two half-centuries. He has also suffered a horrid summer scoring only 76 runs in T20Is and 30 runs from five innings in the ongoing Hundred.
Roy’s form is a worrying sign for England and they need to find a solid opener with an aggressive mould to replace him and get some good starts. The possible solution for the team can be to open with Alex Hales in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Hales was one of the revolutionary openers with his stroke-playing nature on his debut in 2011 and was going strong till 2019. However, his differences with team management kept him out of the squad after that. Hales missed the 2019 World Cup as he failed in a drug test. That caused mistrust between team management and him which led to his omission since 2019. The player always had capabilities suited to white-ball cricket but now he has been scoring runs consistently to be in contention for the selection in the national team.
Hales has been piling up runs in different leagues around the world since 2019. In Big Bash League (BBL) 2019 he scored 576 runs and was the second-highest run-scorer for the season. BBL 2020 was another good tournament for him when he topped the batting charts with 543 runs. The 2021 English T20 Cup and PSL 2022 were couple of tournaments where he was in the top five. Hales also believes that he is in a good space to perform currently.
"The last three years have probably been the best I've ever played in T20 cricket and particularly this year I feel in a really good place,” he had said to BBC after a Hundred game this season.
Hales has made a strong case for a return to the national side with his performance in the ongoing ‘The Hundred’. He is currently the second highest run-scorer with 205 runs from six games. Also, his record in BBL after being away from the national side helps for his inclusion as the World Cup will be played in Australia. Hales is also of the opinion that he should be included for the World Cup.
"With a World Cup coming up in Australia, somewhere where I've scored an awful lot of runs in the last few years, I feel like I've got a lot to offer [England] in this format for sure,” he had stated.
Hales’ batting style also matches England’s current template and also they need to find a potential replacement for Jason Roy. England’s veteran pacer James Anderson also opines that Hales will be one of the contenders to earn a spot in the World Cup squad.
"Of course they'll be looking at him," Anderson said. "He's somebody who over the last three years has played brilliantly in the T20 format. There's a new captain, a new coach and they will be looking at him,” he had remarked.
England’s first-choice opener Roy has strung a series of low scores while Hales seems to be making most of his chances in league cricket. England's white-ball form is not good at the current stage and they will need someone to revive the batting order at top. Hales has some impressive numbers to show in the Big Bash League where the World Cup is going to be played and his current form also makes him the correct choice.