Don Topley: Why England should keep the faith with Jason Roy, plus an emotional day at Lord’s
- Credit: PA
In his latest cricket column, Don Topley discusses an emotional day at the Ashes, and offers his thoughts on Jason Roy as an opening batsman.
I was the envy of all cricket fans on Thursday as I joined two capacity crowds at London's two international cricket stadiums.
It was a pleasure to be at Lord's for my first taste of the 2019 Ashes Series, even though I witnessed another underwhelming England batting performance.
A quick cab ride across London, and I arrived to watch table-topping Sussex Sharks endure their first defeat of their t20 campaign, to the underperforming Surrey at The Oval.
With an average England and Sussex display, I returned home after midnight a little disappointed at the day's proceedings!
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Both iconic venues were sell-outs which is tremendous, over 30,000 at Lord's and just under 30,000 at The Oval.
At Lord's I wore some red, joining the majority supporting the brave Andrew Strauss and his two young boys. Strauss is the former successful England captain, who rose to become a popular cricket supremo at the ECB, before his late wife, Ruth, was diagnosed with rare lung cancer. Strauss had stood down from his cricketing role to spend more time with his ailing wife who sadly died late last December, aged just 46.
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The former England cricketer sought advice on setting up a foundation in memory of Ruth from former Australian cricketer and foe, Glenn McGrath.
The former Australian fast bowler set up a foundation in his own wife's name, Jane, following her battle with illness.
Australia annually celebrate a huge fundraising day at the Sydney Test where all are dressed in pink. Now Lord's has followed, with the 'Ruth Strauss Foundation Day' on the Second Day of the annual Lord's Test.
It was particularly moving to see Andrew Strauss and his boys (Sam 13 and Lucca 11) present the unique Red Caps to both teams, front the day and then ring the 'Five Minute Bell' on the balcony, before play commenced.
The capacity crowd raised an incredible £382,462 on the day at Lord's, through corporate and individual donations.
The Australian bowlers were less generous and unforgiving, as England were 26/2 after an hour before being dismissed for 258 all out.
Rory Burns made a stoic 53 collecting some bruises on the way, while Jason Roy still has a steep learning curve on the job about opening the batting in Test Cricket.
Ian Botham's facial expression on Roy's three ball duck spoke volumes and Bob Willis wasn't sitting on the fence either. Opening the batting is a specialist role and an art.
I hope Roy continues to be invited to open, as in reality there aren't many other options. Facing the Aussie quicks is probably the hardest challenge in world cricket right now. Only Dominic Sibley of Warwickshire would be an option.
James Pattinson was menacing in the Aussies' emphatic win at Edgbaston last week, and has been rested this game. His replacement, Josh Hazlewood, was the pick of their attack for me, and we still haven't seen the most potent of all, Mitchell Starc.
Essex and Australia's Peter Siddle keeps his dependable spot and endured some bad luck with the Aussies dropping three regulation catches - had they caught them then 170 all out may have been more realistic. The experienced Siddle has vast knowledge of bowling in England.
In contrast, England have significant injuries to James Anderson, Mark Wood and Ollie Stone, with Chris Woakes perpetually managing his knee condition. Jofra Archer has only just recovered from a side strain.
This particular Test Series will be about the better bowling attack (and reserves) who can stay fittest for longest - remember this gruelling series is just five weeks long.
Whilst this Second Test at Lords lost the first entire day to rain, this (now) four day Test could still see England under extreme pressure to save the game, after an average batting display.
There will be another potential trial tomorrow - on the last day - against the best finger spinner in the world, Nathan Lyon. Perhaps some more rain may be required by the hosts!
The one worthy mention for England is that Stuart Broad has claimed the wicket of Davie Warner on all three occasions. Now, that is good news!