A SHORT-FORM specialist in his youth, Jason Roy has not missed the opportunity to learn from a string of Test match legends at Surrey.
Now it’s Test cricket with England that is occupying his mind.
An eye-catching t20 century in 2010 had the South African-born batsman pencilled in as a specialist, but this year he has truly broken the mould.
He has more than 750 LV= County Championship runs already this year – more than any other Surrey batsman – at an average above 50.
Roy’s free-scoring run has seen him called up by the England Lions and named among the final five nominees for the LV= Breakthrough Player award.
The Kia Oval’s rotating door of superstars – Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Kevin Pietersen to name a few – may have had something to do with it.
“Amla was awesome for me,” he said. “We spent quite a lot of time together when he was here, but they have all come into the dressing room and I have picked their brains.”
Roy is nominated for the gong alongside teammate Zafar Ansari, Kent’s Adam Riley, Yorkshire’s Alex Lees and Lewis Gregory of Somerset.
“This year I just have a very simple game plan – that is all it is,” he said. “Last year, I had a cloudy head, but this year I have been very chilled out and kept it simple.
“Playing for England is a huge ambition for me. It’s my goal and why I am playing the game but I know it is going to take some big scores to get me there.”
Teammate Zafar Ansari is propelling Surrey back to the top with bat and ball, but the 22-year-old insists his England chances are non-existent until the county get there.
Last season’s Championship relegation was the culmination of a miserable summer at the Kia Oval, but a blessing of sorts for a number of Surrey’s young guns.
Ansari and Roy, Matt Dunn, Rory Burns, Tom Curran – the list goes on – have been handed greater responsibility in the second tier and responded in impressive fashion.
While Roy’s destructive hitting has caught the eye, Ansari has forged out a different role altogether, combining wickets with his left-arm spin and two patient tons at the top of the order.
Surrey skipper Gary Wilson and veteran spinner Gareth Batty have each tipped him for international honours, but he insists: “I don’t feel I am particularly close to being good enough.
“That’s partly because I think I haven’t done it for long enough, and also the difference between Division One and Division Two cricket is quite significant. Then, the jump to Test cricket is marked.”
Ansari graduated with a degree in Politics and Sociology from Cambridge last year and has found an added focus.
The LV= County Championship: watch the next generation break through. To vote for your 2014 Breakthrough Player, visit www.LV.com/cricket