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Archer overwhelmed by maiden England call-up

The Barbados-born paceman has been given the chance to play his way into the World Cup squad.

Jofra Archer has been given a chance to play his way into England’s World Cup squad (Mark Kerton/PA)
Jofra Archer has been given a chance to play his way into England’s World Cup squad (Mark Kerton/PA)

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 home World Cup.

The Barbados-born paceman was not named in Wednesday’s provisional 15-man squad for the 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 opportunity 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.

Archer has been mostly silent throughout but reacted emotionally when given the call.

“It feels really overwhelming. It’s hard to put the feeling into words,” said the 24-year-old.

“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.

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Jofra Archer is surprised at how fast he has been brought into the England frame (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“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.

“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,” he explained.

“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 Jofra Archer

“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.”

The first international outing of the home season in Malahide will not see England at full strength, with Archer’s Rajasthan Royals team-mates Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes rested alongside fellow IPL players Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow. Batsmen James Vince and Sam Billings come in as cover, but will only be considered for the World Cup as injury replacements.

The Ireland match could also see Jordan and his “little brother” to take the field together for England, an overlap the Bajan duo once thought would never happen.

“It would be a hugely proud moment to play with CJ for England, it’s definitely something we have talked about,” Archer said.

“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.”

PA

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