Jason Roy was relieved to be back with England after drawing a line under the injury that prematurely ended his T20 World Cup and insisted a 36-ball hundred in a practice game was merely a “bonus”.
In his first start since tearing his left calf in England’s final group match against South Africa on 6 November, Roy hit 10 sixes against a Barbados Cricket Association President’s XI at Kensington Oval.
His breakneck innings on Wednesday ended when he sank deep for 115 of 47 deliveries as England prepared for a five-match T20 series against the West Indies that began at the same venue on Saturday, with an emphatic victory.
Even coming to the Caribbean represents a triumph for Roy, whose commitment to monotonous rehab has left him feeling secure in his body, having confounded initial estimates that he is unlikely to do this tour.
“I’ve had a couple of months of rehab and boredom in the freezing weather at home,” Roy said. “It was quite tedious. The first three weeks I was home I couldn’t do much.
“I took off my crutches shortly after I got home, but there were still a couple of weeks where I limped, walked up stairs, etc. I think I was able to get back to running at the standard level for Christmas.
“The calf is 100 percent, I didn’t even think about it, which was good. Putting on the pads was a very special feeling. Getting runs is an advantage, but being able to play again is even better.”
Roy’s injury occurred when he launched into a single against the Proteas, completing the run but then collapsing in agony before being helped off the field, with England later confirming that their tournament was over.
His totemic presence at the top of the order was sorely missed when England’s bid to become the first team to hold two white-ball World Cups simultaneously was ended by New Zealand in the semi-finals in the United Arab Emirates.
Watching helplessly is clearly still a source of frustration for Roy, although he and England will have another chance to make history with another T20 World Cup taking place in Australia later this year.
He said: “You always want to correct some mistakes, but it’s such a strange thing, I’ve never, ever had a problem with my calf. It was the weirdest thing because I wasn’t even sprinting, I was just jogging and it rang.
“I was in excruciating pain and immediately knew my World Cup was over. I felt good and we were in a great place as a team, everything was perfect. Even just talking about it brings back some pretty bad memories.
“Unfortunately, it’s just part of the game and it came at a pretty bad time. By the time the World Cup comes around, I hope it won’t even be talked about.”
With Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow absent in the Caribbean following their Ashes efforts, England will field a new look in the top four over the course of a series that will see five games played in just nine days.
However, Roy insisted he is not under pressure to act as a senior batsman, arguing that England are spoiled for choice when deciding who should be their opening partner from the start, with Tom Banton and Phil Salt waiting in the wings.
He added: “We have some gun players, there are some players in training who have impressed a lot. You have seen what Banton can do, he is an incredible talent, a young talent and he will learn a lot.
“I just have to do my job. You can’t worry if there’s a lot of pressure because if that fear of failure starts to creep in, then you just do crap. You have to give your best and do your job for the team.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.