Home Sport England opener Roy ready to ’face the fire’ at Newlands

England opener Roy ready to ’face the fire’ at Newlands

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England start a six-match limited overs tour on Friday at Newlands with the first of three Twenty20 matches against a South Africa side that has not played international cricket since March.

England’s Jason Roy celebrates a century. File picture: ICC

CAPE TOWN – England’s powerhouse opener Jason Roy is preparing “to face a bit of fire” when the T20I series gets underway against the Proteas at Newlands on Friday evening.

Both teams are loaded with lethal fast bowling artillery ready to unleash their rapier-like missiles at the batsmen. The Proteas, in particular, will be spearheaded by a rejuvenated Kagiso Rabada. “The Gautrain” was back to his best during the IPL after recharging the batteries during lockdown and is certainly itching to have a crack at the English after last summer’s disappointment.

Rabada won’t be alone in targeting the likes of Roy, Jonny Barstow, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and others after Anrich Nortje’s equally impressive displays at the IPL. While the English will be well aware of the threat Nortje poses after the last Test series, it seems the Warriors seamer has become even more rapid after delivering the quickest ball in IPL history last month.

The duo will have further support from Lungi Ngidi – the Proteas’ T20 Player of the Year last season – and the promising Lutho Sipamla. Left-arm paceman Beuran Hendricks also claimed a maiden five-for in the last Test he played against the English.

It is for this reason that Roy is acutely aware of the challenge that awaits.

“You just know you need to switch on or you’ll leave with a few broken bones,” he said on Wednesday. “You’ve got to make sure your training is on point and ready to face a bit of fire.

“I think T20 is a little bit different – you can adapt and change the way you play a little bit – but the extra pace is always fun to play against. It’ll be a good battle.”

Roy knows though that the Proteas pacemen is not all he needs to contend with during this series. England have an abundance of high-quality top-order batsmen all vying for a place in the starting XI.

Not even World No 1 T20 batsman Malan is even assured of a regular place. Equally, the emergence of the hugely-exciting Tom Banton, who is the official reserve batsman on this tour, has placed Roy under pressure after an indifferent home summer plagued by injury, which ultimately saw him skip the IPL.

Furthermore, England’s brains trust are also still pondering the prospect of moving wicket-keeper/batsman Jos Buttler back up to open in order to maximize his unique talents.

“I would 100 percent be lying if you said you were not under pressure for your place,” Roy said.

“The amount of talent that is around us. There is not one person. Everyone is getting pushed to their limits. No one can rest on their laurels. It’s one of those amazing squads.

“I have got to get myself physically fit, mentally fit and then I’ve got to score some runs. It’s as simple as that.”