Minor tweaks at most is the way England will undoubtedly go when they unveil their squad for the Test tour of the Windies at Lord’s on Monday.
Joe Root’s men will head to the Caribbean in early 2019 fresh from their first overseas Test series win in almost three years following the 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka in November – England becoming only the third team, after Australia and India, to sweep a series on the island.
There may be changes to the XI in the Windies – the three-pronged spin alliance of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach that plundered 48 wickets in total in Sri Lanka could be separated, for example, with senior seamers Stuart Broad and James Anderson possibly reunited – but the core of the party that travelled to Asia in the autumn will also fly across the Atlantic.
What national selector Ed Smith has displayed in his short time in the role, though, is that he has no qualms in chucking in a player more renowned for their white-ball game.
He did it with Jos Buttler, who has repaid that faith with seven fifty-plus scores in 10 Tests since his comeback, including a maiden Test ton against India at Trent Bridge.
Smith also did it with Adil Rashid, despite the leg-spinner not playing red-ball cricket with Yorkshire at the time and he, too, has shown his worth, with 12 wickets in Sri Lanka, including a second Test five-for, after a quiet start at home to India in the summer.
Jason Roy would seem the man most likely to follow fellow ODI mainstays Buttler and Rashid into the Test arena, even if initially that is in the squad and not the team.
Batsmen Joe Denly and Ollie Pope will be sweating on their places having seen no Test action in Sri Lanka and England coach Trevor Bayliss confirmed after the series win that Roy, who has figured in 102 white-ball games for his country, was in the shake-up.
“It’s a bit hard to say we’d go past the 16 or 17 players we’ve had on this successful tour, but certainly he’s another batter who has been spoken about,” Bayliss said of Roy, who has scored six ODI hundreds for England, including a national record 180 against Australia at the MCG in January.
“He’s been spoken about the last one or two times we’ve discussed squads, so he’s getting close.”
The fact Roy was dispatched to the UAE in November to play for England Lions in a four-day fixture against Pakistan A adds weight to the belief a Test call-up is imminent – the 28-year-old doing his chances no harm with a first-innings 59 batting at No 3.
“I was asked to come and play in this four-day game and obviously I said 100 per cent,” Roy said afterwards. “Any chance to try and push my case to play a bit of Test cricket and I’m going to take that opportunity.
“Wherever I get a chance to represent my country I’ll do it. Opening hasn’t been put on my radar. Three has been put on my radar and some of the other spots.”
The No 3 spot, currently occupied in the England team by Jonny Bairstow with Ben Foakes now in possession of the wicketkeeping gloves, is the position from which Roy scored a superb 128 for Surrey against Essex in the final Specsavers County Championship of 2018, as well as 63 against Somerset in the previous match.
Roy has struck 4,645 runs at a not-too-shabby average of 38.38 in 81 first-class matches with nine centuries and 22 fifties but, like with Buttler and Ben Stokes, you feel England are more interested in his approach, swashbuckling strokes and big-game mindset than his numbers.
The last four Test debutants for England have been Surrey players (Sam Curran, Pope, Rory Burns and Foakes) and it would be no surprise if that run continued with Roy some point soon, whether in the middle order or perhaps even at the head of the line-up.
Burns impressed many, including Michael Atherton, with his temperament in Sri Lanka, while opening partner Keaton Jennings notched his second Test century in addition to pulling off some blinding catches at short leg.
Yet, Bayliss stopped short of saying that the duo had cemented their berths – and Roy is lurking.
“I know that the selectors and coaching staff are very keen on Jason and it was no coincidence they sent him to the UAE,” Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart told Sky Sports Cricket recently.
“Burns and Jennings are going to open in the Caribbean but if one of them gets injured or has a loss of form, who is going to be the next opener? It’s not going to be Pope, so Roy could be that man.
“He is an unbelievable talent and has big ambitions to play Test cricket. If he gets that backing you watch him work hard and try and get into the XI. He will bat wherever and not moan about it.”
Another batsman with an outside sniff could be Joe Clarke, the 22-year-old, who joined Nottinghamshire from Worcestershire at the end of the 2018 county season, top-scored for the Lions in that aforementioned four-day fixture with Pakistan A, hitting a second-innings 107.
Bowling-wise, Mark Wood may be hoping for a recall after getting some Lions overs under his belt but Olly Stone would appear set to retain his spot in the squad, especially with those suggestions a few weeks ago that Jofra Archer could make his bow against his native Windies now quietening.
It looks principally to be a case of as you were when England play a Windies side recently beaten 2-0 in Bangladesh and who sit eighth in the Test rankings – albeit one that completed a high-quality, Shai Hope-inspired run chase at Headingley in 2017 and who haven’t been beaten in a Test series at home by England since 2004.
If things get dicey, England could always turn to Roy.
What changes, if any, would you make to England’s Test squad for the tour of the Windies? Let us know in the feedback form below (skysports.com only) or on Twitter @SkyCricket.
Stick with Sky Sports’ digital platforms and Sky Sports News on Monday for news of England’s squads for the Windies tour, which will comprise three Tests, five ODIs and three T20 internationals.
Then watch the matches in full live on Sky Sports Cricket, starting with the first Test in Bridgetown, Barbados from Wednesday, January 23.
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