Archer eager to take ‘surprise chance’ in World Cup year

Sussex Sharks' Jofra Archer.
Sussex Sharks' Jofra Archer.
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Jofra Archer described his maiden England call-up as overwhelming after being given the chance to audition for a leading role at this summer’s World Cup.

The Barbados-born paceman was not named in Wednesday’s provisional 15-man squad for the home tournament, with national selector Ed Smith and his panel preferring to stick with the tried and trusted names that have elevated England to top spot in the 50-over rankings.

But both he and Chris Jordan – his compatriot, friend and Sussex team-mate – have been offered the chance to play their way into the reckoning ahead of the final deadline on May 23.

The pair will have a maximum of seven games to make their respective cases, having been picked for the one-off match against Ireland followed by a Twenty20 and five one-day internationals versus Pakistan. Perform well and they could find themselves parachuted in, leaving the likes of Tom Curran, David Willey and Liam Plunkett looking over their shoulders.

Archer has attracted considerable interest since the England and Wales Cricket Board altered their qualification process, reducing the residency period from seven to three years, just in time for him to be eligible.

His glittering reputation as a star of the T20 franchise circuit, not to mention his ability to clear 90mph, has seen him touted as a potential match winner for Eoin Morgan’s side, though existing squad members including Willey, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes have publicly debated the wisdom of adding a late wildcard into an already successful group.

The 24-year-old has been mostly silent throughout but reacted emotionally when given the call. He said: “It feels really overwhelming. It’s hard to put the feeling into words.

“I didn’t expect to ever be good enough to play for England until the last couple of years after I started doing well in T20 tournaments and it’s been a whirlwind period for me. I honestly thought I would have to wait a couple more years before I would be in contention for the full squad, I thought I would have to play for the Lions or something like that. So when Ed Smith called I was honestly surprised and it was overwhelming for me.

“I’m surprised by how fast everything has happened. I was prepared to wait but, thankfully, the chance has come sooner.”

If Archer locates his best form – the compelling bowling, electric fielding and dangerous batting which has made him such a desirable short-form commodity in the Big Bash and Indian Premier League – England may have no choice but to let one of their current number down.

But his List A CV is less extensive, just 14 matches and 21 wickets equate to a skinny sample size, and, for the time being, he is content to position himself as a willing reserve. He explained: “I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve worked pretty much all my life for this moment and I just want to tackle it and put my best foot forward. I’m not in the World Cup squad but it’s a great chance for me to show what I can do.

“If someone gets injured, I want to put myself in a position where I’m the first person they turn to.

“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. It will still be the highlight of my career to play for England in the series against Pakistan.”

England preliminary World Cup squad: Morgan (capt), Ali, Bairstow, Buttler, T Curran, Denly, Hales, Plunkett, Rashid, Root, Roy, Stokes, Willey, Woakes, Wood.

England squad for Pakistan ODI series: Morgan (capt), Ali, Archer, Bairstow, Buttler, T Curran, Denly, Hales, Jordan, Plunkett, Rashid, Root, Roy, Stokes, Willey, Woakes, Wood.

England squad for Ireland ODI and Pakistan T20: Morgan (capt), Archer, Billings, T Curran, Denly, Jordan, Hales, Plunkett, Rashid, Root, Roy, Vince, Willey, Wood.