England’s preparations for their semi-final against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday were dealt a huge setback when Jason Roy suffered a calf injury and will miss the rest of the T20 World Cup.
The in-form opening batter sustained the injury as England fell to South Africa for the first time in the tournament on Saturday, and a subsequent scan has ruled him out for the duration of the tournament.
With Roy joining left-arm fast Tymal Mills on the sidelines ahead of England’s most critical T20 since the 2016 World Cup final, James Vince has been called into the squad as one of two remaining traveling reserves.
In a competition where he and Jos Buttler have set the tone at the top of the order, Roy has amassed 123 runs in five innings at a 30.75 average and strike-rate of 138.2, and England needs little reminding of his importance to the team.
That was obvious during the group stage of the 2019 50-over World Cup when a torn hamstring forced him to miss the defeats to Australia and Sri Lanka before his return coincided with the eventual champions’ turnaround in fortunes.
England beat New Zealand in the final solely on the basis of boundary countback, whereas the two teams had met in the last four of this competition five years ago when Roy’s 78 off 44 balls enabled Morgan’s side to win.
England was without Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, and Sam Curran in the Gulf, while Mills has succumbed to a right thigh strain, and Roy has now joined the casualty list with an injury that appeared to be an urgent issue in Sharjah.
Roy took a few strides forward after being called for a single, hobbled the rest of the way, and then collapsed in obvious discomfort before being assisted off the field, apparently on the edge of tears as he retired wounded.
Following England’s 10-run loss against the Proteas – despite Eoin Morgan’s side still qualifying for the semis as champions of their Super 12s group – he was seen on crutches, putting his participation in the rest of the competition in jeopardy.
While Vince has been inserted into the 15-man squad, it’s possible that Sam Billings may replace Buttler in the middle order, with one of Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, or Liam Livingstone beginning the innings.
Another option is to strengthen a bowling attack that only took two wickets and allowed 189 runs against South Africa. In such a case, David Willey’s left-arm seam, which is equally useful with the bat, is a tempting choice.