Jason Roy was “a bit overcome with a few emotions” in the hours after a spectacular return to form for England in a losing cause against South Africa on Friday.
Roy has for years been England’s tone-setting trailblazer in the white-ball formats but an alarming and prolonged lean run led to him being dropped ahead of their T20 World Cup-winning campaign.
With those on the fringes such as Will Jacks and Phil Salt pushing for opportunities, Roy’s ODI place was becoming increasingly unstable but he rewarded England’s faith with a buccaneering 79-ball century.
He was dismissed for 113 off 91 deliveries before England badly lost their way, collapsing from 146 without loss in the 20th over to 271 all out with 34 balls unused to lose by 27 runs in Bloemfontein.
But, while they have fallen 1-0 down in the three-match series, Roy, who celebrated his hundred with a huge swing of the bat and a roar, admitted he was happy to draw a line under a forgettable few months.
“I’m feeling very good, I actually didn’t sleep that well – I had about five hours’ sleep, I was a bit overcome with a few emotions and stuff like that, it’s been a turbulent few months,” he said.
“I woke up really well, though, it was the best five hours’ sleep I’ve had.
“It’s been a horrible year. (The celebration) was a little bit of anger around it all just because I set everything to the back of my mind and locked a few things away in a cupboard and went out and played the way I have played throughout my career.
“I was frustrated I hadn’t got to that mindset earlier but it was a very nice feeling.”
Roy pushed his career average in ODIs back above 40 with his 11th hundred in the format – and only Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Marcus Trescothick have made more among England batters.
But this was his first 50-plus score in 15 international innings, while he averaged 12.5 in eight knocks in the SA20 this month, so Roy is not getting too carried away.
“Absolutely not, I don’t see it that way,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games in my career, been around for a while now and even after a bad year you can get forgotten quite quickly.
“It’s a case of keeping pushing, keeping this environment going in this culture we have in the team because it’s a huge year ahead for us in 50-over cricket.”
England defend their World Cup crown later this year and Roy, as one of the most senior players under Jos Buttler, wants to help them go into India in the autumn raring to go.
“I’ve got to keep scoring runs and just building this team to the place where we were at back in 2019,” he added.
England are likely to make changes for Sunday’s second ODI at the same ground, with Jofra Archer and David Willey poised to give way to Chris Woakes and Reece Topley.
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