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Stewart rates Roy among hardest of hitters

Alec Stewart has seen plenty of hard hitters in his 951 competitive games and subsequent career in cricket, but believes Jason Roy is among the best.

Roy has taken the NatWest T20 Blast by storm, roaring to the top of the run-charts with 471 in nine innings at a blistering strike-rate of 150.

Roy has been key to Surrey sitting third in the South Group with two games in hand of second-placed Hampshire, who are a win ahead.

Surrey, who host Glamorgan today and Somerset on Wednesday, could be top of the pile by this time next week and, regardless, are well placed to reach the quarter-finals.

Stewart, an attacking batsman who played more Tests for England than anyone else, is Surrey’s director of cricket and has overseen Roy’s now accelerating rise.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Stewart said: "Jason has always had talent. He's always been an unbelievable striker of the ball. He probably hits the ball harder than anyone in county cricket.

Surrey opener Jason Roy speeds to his sixth fifty in nine NatWest T20 Blast innings, which came against Kent Spitfires at the Kia Oval

"He's one of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball I've ever seen.

"What he hasn't done previously is perhaps been as selective in his shot-making and therefore we've seen glimpses but he hasn't done it over a period of time.

"This year he has batted with maturity. The penny is dropping. I won't say it's dropped.

"He now realises how good he is. He's been very mature and responsible and not just in Twenty20, but in four-day cricket as well which in a way is even more pleasing.

"He's tightened up his defence. He's more selective with which balls he plays and lets go. He's turning himself into a very valuable cricketer."

Roy has fired six fifties in his nine Blast knocks, a feat matched only by Somerset star Craig Kieswetter.

Having been part of the side that lost last year’s T20 final, Roy will not be getting carried away though.

"He's going to create headlines and people want to talk about him, which is great, but he needs to stay humble and keep his feet firmly on the ground, which he certainly is,” Stewart added.

"He knows that he could just be on the start of where he wants to be, which is playing international cricket."

Should Roy continue his brilliant Blast form, England could calling for the Durban-born 23-year-old.

"He now understands how valuable he is to his team when he stays at the crease. Not only can he do it for Surrey, he can do it for England,” Stewart continued.

"He has to earn the right to play for England. He's a special talent. He puts bowlers on the back foot straight away."

The prospect of Alex Hales and Roy atop the England T20 order is a mouth-watering one.  

"With powerplays if you can have a good opening six overs you can almost win a game in those overs,” Stewart said.

"You need to play without fear in Twenty20 cricket but you also need to play responsibly. It's getting that blend right and this year he’s doing it.

"I'm loathe to big him up or promote him too much yet. We're just happy to have him just bubbling underneath." 

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