Jason Roy sparkles again as England leave Bangladesh seeing stars | Andy Bull

Opener smashes 153 runs to set the tone for the World Cup hosts and suggest to the selectors that he could do something similar at the other end of the summer

The first of the sixes flew far over cow corner, across what must be the longest boundary in English cricket. The bowler, Mehedi Hasan, spun on his heel to watch it go. He stared after it as if he had spotted some distant comet, or perhaps a shower of them, since the second six went in a similar direction just a few seconds later, a little shorter and a little straighter this one, over long-on, and then the third followed right after, wider this time, nearer midwicket. It was as if the Perseids had arrived a couple of months early. There were 15 people in the field, and 15,000 in the stands around the ground, but at this particular moment, Mehedi looked so lonely he might have been walking solo across the Arctic.

This was less like batting, more like butchery. Jason Roy dispatched Bangladesh’s attack with the same sort of brisk and pitiless efficiency Bernard Matthews does his Christmas turkeys. He made 153 from 121 balls, and would have broken Andrew Strauss’s record score for England in a World Cup – the 158 Strauss made at Bangalore in that famous tie against India in 2011 – if he had not been caught at extra cover trying to hit Mehedi for a fourth consecutive six, just for kicks. It was the third century England have made in two games this week, following on from the ones Jos Buttler and Joe Root rattled off in the loss against Pakistan on Monday. So they have scored more World Cup hundreds in the past six days than they in did in the entire 1990s.

This one had an unsteady sort of start. Bangladesh, just like South Africa and Pakistan before them, decided to open the bowling with a spinner, a trick that is starting to feel as predictable and familiar as an uncle finding a lost coin behind his nephew’s right ear. This time it was Shakib Al Hasan. Roy and Jonny Bairstow were wary. They took a single off Shakib’s first over, a single off his second and just 15 runs off the first five overs between them. Then Roy punched a four through cover, pulled another through midwicket, and all of a sudden they were off and running. They made 85 from the next 60 deliveries, so England’s hundred was up by the end of the 15th over.

It was the eighth century Roy and Bairstow have put on together in one-day cricket, which is twice as many as the next best pair of English openers, Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight. Their partnership’s become one of England’s greatest weapons.

It meant this match felt as if it was halfway won by the time they were parted, and the game had really only just started. They play with a kind of manic, swaggering intensity that sets the tone for everything that follows. It was not just the hits, but the hustle. They ran a four to deep midwicket at one point, and stole a second run when Shakib made the lazy mistake of returning the ball to mid-off rather than the bowler. Shakib stared at them in disbelief, as if he had been cheated.

Bairstow eventually went for 51 but Roy pressed on, dashing singles, lashing fours and whacking sixes. He even laid waste to the umpire Joel Wilson. The ball was misfielded at square leg, and sped away for the four that took Roy to his hundred. He and Wilson were so busy watching it go that the batsman ran slap bang into the umpire. Roy hardly seemed to break his stride, but Wilson went down hard on his backside. So before he could leap up to celebrate his hundred, he had to bend down to help Wilson back to his feet. Up on the dressing room balcony, his teammates could barely applaud because they were all laughing so hard.

It was Roy’s ninth ODI hundred. Which happens to be exactly as many as he has in first class cricket. It is beginning to feel as though England will have to give him a go in their Test team sooner or later, unless they really believe that there are other players around the county circuit who could do better for them. Roy will hardly play for Surrey this summer, and will not necessarily open for the batting for them when he does, but Buttler has already shown there is more than one way into the Test team these days. Although, a note of caution is needed here, it is, of course, a very long way from making a white-ball century against Bangladesh to opening the batting in a Test match against Australia at Lord’s.

All that can wait for later in the summer anyway. It certainly was not on Roy’s mind on Saturday, when, in the end, all he seemed to be worrying about was whether or not he could become the first Englishman to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket. He eventually screwed his fourth attempt off the edge to extra cover. Mehedi had friends again then; they came running in to congratulate him. Only he did not seem to be in the mood for celebrating. He was not happy so much as he was thankful, and he patted Roy on the back, in congratulation, yes, but presumably also relief at his late reprieve.


Andy Bull at Cardiff Wales Stadium

The GuardianTramp

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