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Archer overwhelmed as England come calling

ICC WORLD CUP 2019




Archer wasn't included in the England World Cup preliminary squad but has a chance to stake a claim in the series against Pakistan.

Archer wasn’t included in the England World Cup preliminary squad but has a chance to stake a claim in the series against Pakistan. © AFP

Jofra Archer says it will be the highlight of his career to play for England after earning his first international call-up on the day England announced their preliminary squad for the World Cup.

The 24-year-old Barbados-born quick, who completed his qualification period to play for England on March 17, was not included in initial 15 drafted for this summer’s tournament. But he is one of two additional players, along with Sussex teammate Chris Jordan, who will contest the five-match ODI series against Pakistan alongside the 15 players pencilled in for the World Cup.

Both Archer and Jordan will get the chance to state their case for the squad, which the ECB will finalise on May 22 ahead of the ICC deadline the day after. By then, Archer will have almost certainly made his international debut for England as he features in a 14-man squad that will contest the one-off ODI and T20I against Ireland and Pakistan respectively.

“It feels really overwhelming,” said Archer on his call-up. “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. It’s really good to be acknowledged for what I’m doing, but it’s hard to put the feeling into words.

“It’s not all about the World Cup for me right now, it’s about playing against Pakistan which is what I’ve been selected for. It will still be the highlight of my career to play for England in the series against Pakistan.

“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’m just so excited to play against Pakistan and this is a position I didn’t imagine I would be in at this stage.”

To say it has all happened in a hurry for Archer would be something of a half-truth. He made his English debut in 2016 for Sussex, whom he joined off the back of Jordan. Domestic qualification came easy as Archer’s father is English and he holds a British passport. But the registration period of seven years was a big hurdle to overcome.

Nevertheless, he became a star for the county and, later, for T20 franchises across the globe, starring for Hobart Hurricanes which earned him a bumper deal with Rajasthan Royals in 2018, where he became teammates with soon-to-be international colleagues Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes. His ability to bowl consistently above 90mph and his skills as a death bowler shot him to prominence and, eventually, the road he had to take to English acceptance shortened when the ECB relaxed their seven-year ruling to just three, in line with other nations.

As such, when March 17 ticked over, Archer began dreaming of what might be. Now, with a chance to put on an England shirt and, perhaps, put down an early marker for the Ireland and Ashes Tests later this summer, it all seems very real. National selector Ed Smith called Archer to inform him of his selection on Tuesday, prior to Rajasthan’s game against Kings XI Punjab. With a spring in his step, Archer went out and took three for 15 from his four overs.

“It’s been an exciting three months but I’m surprised by how fast everything has happened,” he says. “I was fully prepared in my mind that it was going to be a seven-year job. When I found out I have qualified more quickly it was obviously a bit of a shock but also exciting. But the goal has never changed, which has always been to become the best cricketer I can and hopefully play for England whenever I was eligible.

“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 he called I was honestly surprised and it was overwhelming for me.

“I had heard all the rumours and chatter but I was playing cricket and didn’t give myself too much time to think about it. Cricket kept me distracted which was a good thing, because I didn’t’ really want to speak about it or get caught up in all the stuff around it.”

That he could line up alongside Jordan is very apt. It was Jordan who helped drive Archer’s move from Barbados; Jordan who notified Sussex there was a kid playing league cricket under their noses who they should keep tabs on; Jordan who helped Archer with his first franchise gig. None of this is lost on the younger of the two.

“He (Jordan) has been a part of every major cricketing feat I’ve had. My debut at Sussex, my first franchise tournament in Bangladesh, he was there in the Big Bash…he’s always been there every time I’ve done something in cricket.

“It would be a hugely proud moment to play with CJ for England, it’s definitely something we have talked about. We’ve done so much together, we’ve supported each other every step of the way and he deserves his call-up for the Pakistan series.”

The cricket won’t be a problem, but coming into an England team environment where defined roles, familiar faces and a number-one ranking tag could be a tad daunting. Certainly over the last month, a number within the camp have highlighted there may be some understandable grievances if a player’s World Cup hopes were quashed by Archer’s appearance from left-field. Such are the harsh realities of international sport. But the man in question is not taking anything for granted.

“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 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 understand the situation and I’m very happy with everything. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, the squad selected for the World Cup deserve it and my job is to do my very best against Pakistan.

“It’s already above and beyond my expectations and I’m just looking forward to meeting the team and playing cricket for England.”

© Cricbuzz

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