Martin Read – Sports Reporter
As widely anticipated, and previously highlighted in the District Post, Horsham all-rounder Jofra Archer, a former West Indies Under 19 player, has been added to England’s World Cup squad after recently playing for England in One Day Internationals against Ireland and Pakistan. 24 year old Barbados-born Archer was not selected for the initial squad, but, after displaying his skills in an England shirt, it was not unexpectedly decided that his extra pace added a new dimension to England’s line up. His athletic fielding and ability with the bat were additionally favourable factors. Archer had been encouraged to play club cricket in Sussex by his fellow countryman friend Chris Jordan, the county’s England player. And, while with Horsham Archer had games for Sussex 2nd 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 the world, 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 recently played for Rajasthan Royals, having also featured 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 17th, the move drawing criticism, the criteria appearing to have been changed to accommodate one player. Although Archer has played only 28 First Class games and made just seventeen 50 over appearances, he has proved himself highly capable in all formats, including 93 T20 matches, and undoubtedly adds strength to any international side given his exciting performances to date, especially when bowling under the cosh. The World Cup started on May 30th at venues in England and Wales – England playing South Africa at the Oval on the opening day.
Former England Captain Michael Vaughan says: “If you are in a selection meeting, 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 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 David Willey was an unfortunate casualty of Archer’s World Cup selection.
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, it’s a great chance for me to show what I can do. 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 and that I would have to play for England Lions – I was fully prepared 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.”
In the Sussex Premier League Horsham play Roffey at Cricketfield Road again on Saturday and such is the rivalry that last year Archer was allowed by Sussex to play in that fixture – along with other county players, and a wag has tweeted a spoof application to the ECB for Archer to be released for Saturday’s Roffey clash.