England’s chief selector Ed Smith insists the recent World Cup triumph has provided the ideal launchpad for Jason Roy to make his Test debut.
Roy will open the batting against Ireland in next week’s four-day match at Lord’s intent on proving he can serve as more than a limited-overs specialist before Ashes hostilities commence on August 1.
The 28-year-old’s recovery from a hamstring injury lifted Eoin Morgan’s men out of their mid-World Cup slump in time to reach the semi-finals, his average of 63.28 securing a place in the team of the tournament.
“It’s no great secret that we have long been admirers of Jason. He’s growing as a batsman all the time and is a more complete player than he’s ever been.” Smith said.
“The big question with Jason Roy was when was the ideal time to make the move into Test cricket?
“(England captain) Joe Root and I spoke at length months ago about the scenario in which Jason finished the World Cup confident, full of runs and went straight into the Ashes and that’s what we’ve done.
“It feels like a really good time for Jason to join the Test team as an opener. He’s in and has our full backing.
“Our confidence in him is based on a mixture of him as a player, person, and performer in all formats.
“When he did play at the very back of end of last summer in red-ball cricket he did well for Surrey and again for the Lions he carried on his good form in red-ball cricket.
“There’s never been any doubt about his talent, audacity or his presence at the crease – it’s fantastic. All those things are very clear. But he’s also gained improved mastery and adaptability.”
While Roy’s swaggering stroke play will be present at Lord’s next week, England’s two most potent bowlers of the World Cup will be absent.
Mark Wood has been ruled out for four to six weeks by the side strain sustained in the dramatic victory over New Zealand in Sunday’s final, while Jofra Archer has headed to Barbados for a holiday.
Smith refuses to guarantee that Archer will face Australia this summer with the beneficiary of a newly-awarded 12-month ECB increment contract also struggling with an ailment that could delay his Test debut.
“We don’t know when Jofra will be available at the moment. He has a side injury,” Smith said.
“He’s having a bit of a break now because he’s played a lot of cricket and has been a central protagonist in one of the great stories in sport.
“He will get every medical attention so that he will be fit as soon as possible. Then we’ll make an informed decision for the good of England cricket.
“He’s a very good cricketer and we’re very excited about him and what he can do in all formats.”
Smith described Wood’s contribution to the World Cup as “terrific”, but his loss is offset by the imminent return of Jimmy Anderson from a calf injury.
“Jimmy is making very good progress. If he is good to go, he will play in the Ireland Test. If he is deemed too big a risk, he will not play against Ireland,” Smith said.
“The third scenario is that he sends down a certain amount of overs to make sure he gets just the right amount of work before the Ashes.”
England’s limited-overs vice-captain Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – the hero of Sunday’s win – are rested ahead of the Ashes.