England skipper Eoin Morgan has given his unequivocal backing to out-of-form opener Jason Roy as his side prepare for their Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh at the Kia Oval on Thursday.
Roy has been a mainstay alongside Alex Hales at the top of England’s limited-overs batting line-up since the 2015 World Cup but has struggled of late and scored just 33 runs in his last five one-day international knocks.
But Morgan has ruled out dropping the hard-hitting Surrey batsman, instead favouring a consistency of selection which England have at times lacked before major tournaments in the past.
“I cannot see it changing,” said Morgan. “The decision remains the same throughout the tournament. Jason Roy is part of our strong opening partnership with Alex Hales. He’ll definitely play.
“Jason really epitomises the way that we play; the aggression in which he plays, he always plays for the team. He’s a very important part of our side.”
Roy’s situation has not been helped by the impressive form of Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow, who has struck three half-centuries in his last four one-day clashes for England. Morgan, however, is adamant there is no room in England’s first XI for Bairstow at present.
“He [Bairstow] misses out unfortunately,” added Morgan. “It’s been the case like that for the last couple of years. He’s been very good when he’s come in, but each and every one of us within the batting department has had ups and downs over the years.
“And one of the strongest parts of reinforcing the way that we play and the freedom in which we play is backing that up with selection.”
All-rounder Ben Stokes is set to undergo a fitness test on his left knee before Thursday’s showdown. Morgan has confirmed that the 25-year-old will play as a specialist batsman if he’s unfit to bowl.