The Ashes may be gone but England kicked off the one-day internationals with a thumping five-wicket win in the first of a five-game series. For that they have Jason Roy to thank. Chasing 305 for victory, Roy pillaged 180, carving 16 fours and five sixes from 151 balls, and setting a record for the highest score by an Englishman in ODIs, beating Alex Hales’s 171 against Pakistan in 2016.
Earlier, a ninth ODI hundred by the Australia opener Aaron Finch looked to have ensured an even tussle. His effort was measured and serene. Roy, by contrast, was a man with a claw hammer in each hand, swinging at anything and everything that came his way.
His half-century came from a chaotic 32 balls, and he was responsible for 12 of the 15 boundaries England managed in their first 10 overs. The path to his century was more treacherous. On 91 he misread the line of a ball from the leg-spinner Adam Zampa and was adjudged lbw. Upon review the ball was shown to have hit his pad outside the line while Roy was playing a shot. The decision was overturned and Zampa’s next ball was blitzed for six, just out of the reach of long-on. A scampered three off his 94th delivery then took Roy to his fourth ODI hundred.
Having lost his opening spot to Jonny Bairstow during the ICC Champions Trophy last year, Roy was recalled for the final two ODIs against West Indies last summer when Hales was suspended immediately for his part in the incident outside a Bristol nightclub on 24 September. The reprieve allowed Roy to score 84 and 96, securing a place on this tour. He now possesses the highest ODI score anyone has posted at the MCG, which helped pull off the highest chase seen at this venue. Hales’s return to international cricket lasted three balls: undone by Pat Cummins and spooning a catch to midwicket for only four.
“I had a very tough year in 2017, being dropped from the side and then being brought back into it towards the end of the year,” Roy said. “It kind of gave me a kick to recognise where I’m at. It has turned round incredibly quickly. That’s the nature of this game – especially in one-day and T20 cricket.”