England have suffered their second major injury blow at the T20 World Cup after confirmation that Jason Roy has torn a calf muscle and will play no further part in the tournament.
Roy limped out of England’s final match of the Super 12 stage against South Africa on Saturday and, as the team prepare to play New Zealand in Wednesday’s semi-final, has dropped out of the squad, replaced by James Vince.
“It is a bitter pill to swallow,” Roy said. “I will be staying on to support the boys, and hopefully we can go all the way and lift that trophy. It has been an unbelievable journey so far, and we have to continue expressing ourselves and concentrating on us.”
Moeen Ali described the news as “a massive blow” but insisted the squad remains positive about their chances of winning the tournament. “It’s a big blow not just because of the way he bats but also because of what he brings to the field, the confidence that he brings,” he said. “Especially with guys that may be feeling a little bit nervous, he’s the one guy who settles our nerves and helps us get through it.
“So it’s a massive blow, but he’ll still be around [to do] that. The confidence that he goes out with, the way he takes on the bowlers, it gives everyone else a bit of a boost and that will be missing, but we’ve got guys who’ve been waiting in the wings for a long time – guys who are playing well in the nets and are ready to come in.”
Roy’s withdrawal follows that of Tymal Mills, who was forced out last week because of a quad injury, while Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran are also absent because of fitness issues.
“We’ve lost so many players,” Moeen said. “But I feel like the players that come in are as good and are also big players. The reason they don’t play is because we have such a strong XI. For me if we win the World Cup it will show the depth of English cricket. It’s a very difficult team to get into and you’ve got to be doing really well to get in, I think it will signify that more than anything. But it would be a massive achievement for this group of players if we do win that trophy.”
Moeen has faced just 33 balls in the World Cup so far, batting in only three of England’s five group games, but his bowling has been key to the team’s success – he has taken seven wickets, fewer only than Adil Rashid’s eight, and has the squad’s best economy rate. He entered the competition in fine form after winning this year’s Indian Premier League with Chennai Super Kings just days before the World Cup started.
“I did well in the IPL and winning that has helped, in my opinion, massively,” he said. “I felt like I learned so much about cricket and batting, all that kind of stuff – my game got better and better as I was going on. The confidence is high and I just feel like a big part of the team. I’ve got important roles and I’m really happy with my game. To be given that responsibility with the new ball or just outside the powerplay, whatever it is, and then going up the order when Morgs [Eoin Morgan, the captain] gives me the nudge, it’s always great. I just feel like I’m playing really well and I think the captain sees that and wants to use that as much as he can.”
Vince, who was also a part of England’s squad at the 2016 20-over World Cup, opens for Hampshire Hawks in the Vitality Blast and has previously done so for England in T20 and ODI matches, including while Roy was injured at the 2019 50-over World Cup. However, there are several alternatives at the top of the order Morgan may prefer. “The great thing is there’s loads of options and loads of combinations that we can go with,” Moeen said. “I’m sure Morgs will make the right decision when the time comes.”