Roy belts Aussies with record knock
IF it was a campaign fundraiser, halfway through you were ready to scream ''I believe'' and sign a contribution cheque for Australia's one-day team.
But then Englishman Jason Roy muzzled what had seemed growing optimism for the cause with an epic innings of 180, the biggest one-day score at the MCG and England's highest one-day score, to send Aussie fundraisers back to the drawing board.
Recent history had eroded much optimism for the home team and supporters going to the ground were apprehensive.
The candidates seeking approval were shaky in their early offerings, and it looked as if the start of the campaign towards the 2019 World Cup was going to leave spectators looking at other options.
But then Aaron Finch pounded out 107, his third MCG ton against England, and half-centuries to Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis provided the middle-order reassurance that was missing last year, when just five wins came from 15 games.
Stoinis looked like a man you could build an innings around.
He has played only nine ODIs, but averages 81 and hits the ball so hard, players nearby wince.
Australia racked up 8-304, the 10th-highest ODI score at the MCG, against an English outfit which has the best ODI winning percentage for the past two years.
Then Australia bowled, and Roy put on a brilliant batting show.
He couldn't hit it off the square in his Big Bash stint with Sydney Sixers, where he made 62 runs from six knocks.
He scored 37 off his first 17 balls. Off Ashes heroes Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.
He was swinging at everything and the ball was spending more time in the local air space than Qantas. Seagulls scrambled to get out of the way. England had 60 runs in six overs.
Australia got two wickets, but it didn't halt Roy.
The 27-year-old reached his ton off 92 balls, then really got going. He swatted a bit, missed a few, but made runs. And with Joe Root getting 91 not out up the other end, England chased down 304 as if it was 250. Comfortably.
"It was just a huge honour to be out there for England again and get some runs on the board," Roy said.
"It's been a tough season last year, so to be selected again was special."
It was the highest successful ODI chase at the MCG.
"That was some innings from Roy," Australian skipper Steve Smith said.
"Jeez, he played spectacularly well. Didn't give us a chance. He came out, chanced his arm, played very aggressively from ball one.
"They got off to an absolute flyer. Tried everything to take wickets but wasn't to be tonight."