Jofra Archer has been making a splash in T20 cricket but how realistic is it that he plays for England at the 50-over World Cup?
Who is Jofra Archer?
A 23-year old Barbados-born cricketer with an English father and a Bajan mother. He was ‘discovered’ by England man Chris Jordan during a net session in Barbados, who persuaded Archer to join him at Sussex and the powers-that-be at the English county to give him a chance. He’s been playing for them since halfway through the 2016 season and has since also turned out for the Brisbane Hurricanes in the Big Bash, the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Premier League.
What sort of player is Jofra Archer?
A bowling all-rounder who is primarily a fast bowler, then a brilliant fielder and finally, a very capable lower order batsman. In that regard the player Jofra Archer is most similar to is ‘fellow West Indian’ Dwayne Bravo.
Given the very small pool of international class players who genuinely do all three disciplines- Ben Stokes, Andre Russell, Glenn Maxwell and Ravindra Jadeja are the only others -and you can see why he’s considered such a valuable asset.
Why is he being talked about?
Because his father was English, Jofra Archer doesn’t count as an overseas player for Sussex. Originally, he was meant to only qualify for England in 2022-23, much like Graeme Hick had to wait around playing county cricket for years before being able to play for England. But the ECB have since decided to change the residency rules and cut the amount of time a player needs to be playing in England from seven years to three, which they argue is in line with what the rest of the cricketing world does.
In other words, they’re not opening a special exception for him but rather, he’s the most high-profile beneficiary of the rule change.
On the one hand, the fact that he didn’t spend at least 210 days of the last year in the UK because of his cricketing globetrotting means he’s not eligible to play for England until mid-March and has no chance of being part of England’s tour to the Windies (ironically) in January/February.
On the other hand, it does mean that he’s eligible to play both in the Ashes and for England in their (50 over) World Cup campaign.
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Which of the two is he most likely to play in?
It would be a huge ask to expect an uncapped player to just rock up and take to an Ashes series like a fish to water. That said, with James Anderson and perhaps to a greater extent Stuart Broad on the wane, England may decide they may just need him in reserve if the two elder statesman of their attack get injured or can’t cope with the physical demands of a five Test series. Bar Chris Woakes, there isn’t much else to speak of in terms of real quality in the pace department.
But realistically, he’s got a greater chance of playing for England in the Cricket World Cup. Skipper Eoin Morgan is open to the idea of Archer being involved and you can’t blame him but breaking into an ODI side who has been so successful in the past few years is easier said than done.
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What could his role be?
Luckily for Archer, he has the right profile for a place in the England side. Key to their strategy since Morgan took over as captain was that they should bat very deep. They’re arguably the first ODI side ever to bat all the way down to 10 with the likes of Adil Rashid, David Willey and Liam Plunkett all having batted in that position.
But that might just be an extra bonus because if there’s one thing they’re lacking at the moment it’s a tall, gangly, fast bowler who can bowl short but also mix it up with a few tricks such as the Yorker, the slower ball or the leg-cutter. Which is what Jofra Archer is and what he can do.
Assuming England play the same Top 7 they’ve gone with over the past couple of years- Roy, Bairstow, Root/Hales, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, Ali- that would leave four places. Rashid will surely play as their frontline spinner but after that it’s the following players for the remaining three places: Plunkett, Willey, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, Sam Curran, Tom Curran and…Archer.
It wouldn’t be that surprising if Archer got the nod alongside the two Curran brothers.
So happy days….
Sort of. Jofra Archer has actually only played 14 List A matches which isn’t much at all in terms of 50-over experience, given we’re talking about a World Cup here.
And for all his heroics in the various T20 competitions he’s played in, international cricket is a big step up. Bowling 10 overs in a 50-over game is quite different to four in a 20 over game and he’ll have to adjust.
There are a couple of other concerns. One is that his pace has been slightly down in this year’s Big Bash, another is that he’s been guilty of bowling quite a few no-balls and yet a third is that he’s looked a little too relaxed in recent matches. There’s no room for complacency in international cricket.