Don Topley: Archer will be in England World Cup squad - but at whose cost?
- Credit: PA
Jofra Archer’s selection for England’s World Cup Squad has caused much debate over recent days, writes Don Topley in his latest column.
Although omitted from the provisionally announced squad, Archer will be given an opportunity to play against Ireland and Pakistan in the ODI build-up to the World Cup. The ICC 50 Over Event starts on May 30.
England’s World Cup squad had to be announced on Wednesday (purely for administrative reasons) with a confirmed deadline of May 22 and many expect him to then be added.
I believe Chief Selector, Ed Smith, has got it right for the various picks for the forthcoming squads, especially with regards Archer.
The three confirmed squads announced this week contain many names, including some who remain on England’s periphery, allowing the likes of Ben Stokes, Johnny Bairstow and Jos Buttler a few games off, after their busy time in the Indian Premier League
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If the forthcoming World Cup was a T20 event then I would have no issue on Archer’s inclusion, as he has a great record in the T20 domain: T20 Blast, IPL, Big Bash and PSL, but Archer has very little experience of 50 over cricket. He has played just 14 50 over games and at an underwhelming average.
Clearly Archer is a terrific cricketer with the ‘X’ factor. He bowls extremely fast, is a tremendously athletic fielder and can give the ball a ‘biff’ with the bat.
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His England consideration has come around prematurely following a decision by the ECB - just last November - to reduce the qualification period to play for England from six years to three years, which I was totally against.
Born in Barbados to an English father, schooled in Barbados, and represented West Indies U19s – just like his Sussex teammate and great mentor, Chris Jordan – Archer was initially looking at 2022 to qualify to play for England.
I am struggling to find any other reason for the ECB to reduce the qualifying period other than for Archer to play for England earlier.
As a result of the qualification criteria amendment, another professional overseas quick bowler today harbours ambitions of playing for England.
Duane Olivier, who played successfully for South Africa just this winter, now plies his trade for Yorkshire, as a controversial ‘Kolpak’ player.
Olivier has made it known that he wants to play for England in three years’ time. There will be many in their teens seeking to do the same from the Caribbean, South Africa and Zimbabwe with the qualification reduced to just three years.
The simple reason is they can all earn much more money in the UK as professional cricketers.
I understand free market trade etc but what I don’t want to see is elite international cricket becoming like Champions League football and losing home player identity.
I was concerned in the 1980’s with England’s batting line up including Chris and Robin Smith, Allan Lamb, Graeme Hick and others.
Similarly, Kevin Pietersen qualified and played for Notts, Hampshire, Surrey and England, but would have played for Jupiter or Saturn if the deal was right.
I do expect Eoin Morgan’s World Cup squad to include Archer in due course, but at whose cost?
We have read public comments from bowlers David Willey, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes concerned about upsetting the team environment as the England set up today is an impressive close-knit community, where players back each other to the hilt.
One of Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett and Willey may fall foul of Archer’s inclusion. If I had to nominate someone today, it would probably be Plunkett, who has lost some pace and is also struggling for form at the moment having just moved South to Surrey.
Archer will be well-known to two senior England players (Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler) who share his current Rajasthan Royal IPL dressing room and with the rejuvenated Chris Jordan performing so well in the last 18 months, he will be well mentored by his great friend.
I would love to be present at England’s team practices as every bowler will be looking over their shoulder and keeping a close eye on Archer. There will be fierce competition for bowling places, so nets could be a bit spicy!