Horsham’s Jofra Archer on England’s World Cup radar
Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Horsham all-rounder Jofra Archer, a former West Indies Under 19 player, has
been picked for England, in a controversial but not unexpected move. 24 year
old Barbados-born Archer had been encouraged to play club cricket in Sussex
by his fellow countryman friend Chris Jordan, the county’s England player.
And, while playing for Horsham Archer had games for Sussex 2 nd XI, going on
to make his first team debut against Pakistan at Hove in July 2016, when he
impressed with four wickets on the opening day. Archer played for Horsham
last season at Cricketfield Road against Roffey, and, the following day in a
cup game at East Grinstead. Before coming to Horsham he had a season with
Sussex Premier League side Middleton, in a brief whirlwind innings at Roffey
smashing a ball through a bedroom window with a huge six. At Horsham
Archer was clearly talented, but there was no real hint that he would so rapidly
become one of the most successful bowlers and useful lower order batsmen
in England, and beyond, scoring 72 in his Championship debut against Essex.
Generating real pace from his smooth action and hitting hard with the bat
subsequently produced excellent returns, making him a target acquisition in
the IPL, where he is currently playing for Rajasthan Royals, having also
played for other T20 franchises, Hobart Hurricanes and Quetta Gladiators.
Jofra Chioke Archer has an English father and a British Passport and had
expected a long wait to come into contention for an England call up, until the
qualification period was reduced from seven to three years, making him
eligible from March 17 th , the move drawing criticism, the criteria appearing to
having been changed to accommodate one player. Although Archer has
played only 28 First Class games and made just fourteen 50 over
appearances, he has proved himself highly capable in all formats, including
90 T20 matches and would undoubtedly add strength to any international side
given his exciting performances to date, especially when bowling under the
cosh. He has not been picked for England’s initial World Cup squad – the
competition beginning on May 30 th at venues in England and Wales, but
England can make changes to their selections up to May 23 rd . Meanwhile
Archer has the opportunity to propel himself into England’s final squad if he
shines in a one-day game against Ireland, in Dublin on May 3 rd and a T20
contest versus Pakistan two days later, followed by further chances in the
five-match ODI series between 8th and 19th May.
Former England Captain Michael Vaughan says: “If you are in a selection
meeting, whether as captain, coach or chairman of selectors, you have got
one school of thought: is there anybody out there who can improve the team?
Is there any player who can bring something to the team that we do not have
already? In Jofra Archer, you think, absolutely. The England one-day team
are very, very good but in games they have lost over the past few years they
have lacked a bit of pace, a bit of nous and that ability to bowl under pressure.
Archer ticks every one of those boxes. I am not being harsh on any of the
other bowlers, but Archer has been outstanding.” England player Chris
Woakes, who could well be a victim if Archer is given a permanent England
role, has described Archer’s probable selection as: “Not fair morally”. Quietly
spoken Archer has wisely been diplomatic, saying: “I'm going to give it my
best shot. Of course I want to play in the World Cup, but if it doesn't happen
for me I'm not going to get upset. I understand the situation and I'm very
happy with everything. I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I'm not in the
World Cup squad but it's a great chance for me to show what I can do and
anything can happen. If someone gets injured, I want to put myself in a
position where I'm the first person they turn to. I've worked pretty much all my
life for this moment and just want to put my best foot forward. I thought I
would have to wait longer before I would be in contention for the full squad
and that I would have to play for England Lions – I was fully prepared in my
mind that it was going to be a seven-year job. When I found out I was
qualified more quickly it was obviously a bit of a shock but also exciting."
Former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten, who won the 2011 World Cup as
India coach, and coached Archer during his breakthrough season in
Australia's 20-over Big Bash League, commented: “You could see straight
away that this guy has got something very special to offer. He likes to be at
the forefront when it is a tight match and you cannot ask for more than that.
He is a nice guy, loves playing and just gets on with it. In terms of Archer
being picked for England, I’ve seen the quote from Chris Woakes and I agree
with him – I do not know who would miss out but it would be hard on that
individual, especially if he has done well for the team over a number of years.
It is a bit of a risk, but Archer brings X-factor to the team, without a doubt, but
you have to think what expense that will be at."