Jason Roy smashed England’s highest ever one-day innings to help banish the Ashes blues and deliver a record-breaking victory over Australia at the MCG.
Roy was relentless as he piled on 180 in the opening match of the ODI series, beating Alex Hales’ previous mark by nine runs and also eclipsing Mark Waugh’s record on this ground of 173.
Roy occupied the crease for 151 deliveries, striking 16 fours and five sixes in what will go down as one of the consummate limited-overs innings in English colours and the cornerstone of a much-needed five-wicket success.
The Surrey batsman’s efforts allowed the tourists to hunt down 305, besting the Melbourne stadium’s previous high of 295 – reeled in by Australia following their own Ashes defeat in 2011.
Roy’s innings began at a thunderous rate, his first 50 runs occupying just 32 deliveries, but it was the way in which he knuckled down through the middle overs and cashed in on an irrepressible second wind which will please him most.
Joe Root, fit again after ending the Test series stricken by sickness, partnered Roy in a third-wicket stand worth 221 and lingered long enough to see the job through with 91 not out.
Australia’s Aaron Finch also took his place among the game’s supporting acts, though his diligent 107 looked more important at the time.
Faced with two of Australia’s Ashes conquerors, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Roy was fearless from the off.
A top-edged six off Starc may have owed more to good fortune than anything else but Roy was soon peppering the ropes with abandon, leaning into on-drives and tucking into any errors in length.
After four overs, England had already ticked 47 off a target that was beginning to look piecemeal.
There was a swift response, Jonny Bairstow and Hales perishing to pace, but Root brought a sense of control with him to the crease.
The frenetic scoring rate subsided after Roy’s half-century and England went exactly 10 overs without a boundary.
Roy had started to show frustration when he was given lbw on 91, misreading Adam Zampa’s googly. Root instantly advised a review and when replays earned Roy a reprieve, it provided the jump start he needed.
Zampa’s next delivery was slammed for six over long-on and a dashed three allowed him to celebrate his fourth one-day ton.
Having battled through, Roy’s confidence flooded back – deftly reverse-sweeping, pulling the returning Starc with authority and flogging Zampa for six as he successfully moved past his own personal best, 162, and Hales’ national record before tiredly top-edging Starc.
England still required 24 runs but the warm applause of the 37,000 crowd acknowledged not just a job superbly done but a match settled in England’s favour. Captain Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler fell cheaply but Root and Moeen Ali finished the job.
Australia had earlier posted 304 for eight built around a stand of 118 between Finch and Mitchell Marsh (50), topped up by a secondary partnership worth 80 between Tim Paine and the inventive Marcus Stoinis (60).
Finch played against type for most his innings, striking 10 fours to go with three maximums but also showing admirable restraint before eventually holing out to Moeen.
Moeen turned in a typically tidy 10-over spell, Liam Plunkett finished with three wickets and Adil Rashid bagged the prize scalp of Steve Smith for 23, but there was little doubting Mark Wood’s starring role with the ball.
One for 49 only begins to tell the tale of his contribution, which included a string of waspish bouncers, regular flirtation with the 90mph mark and the tone-setting dismissal of David Warner, caught at slip off a ball that thudded into the shoulder of the bat.