Highly-rated fast bowler Jofra Archer will become available for England selection in the first few months of next year after the eligibility criteria was relaxed.
Archer was born in Barbados to an English father but he did not arrive in the United Kingdom until after his 18th birthday in 2015, necessitating a seven-year residency period under the previous regulations.
Despite holding a British passport, that meant he would not have come into contention for England until the winter of 2022.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the residency benchmark would be brought down to three years for male and female British citizens from January 1, 2019 – as long as they had not played as a local in an overseas competition during that time.
The move, designed to bring the ECB regulations closer to those of the International Cricket Council, has been welcomed by Archer, who set his sights on England’s tour to the West Indies early next year.
The 23-year-old has long coveted England recognition, and he tweeted: “It may or may not happen but I would love to debut in front of my family.”
However, Sussex later revealed that he is “likely to qualify for England at some point in March 2019” – almost certainly ruling him out of the trip to the Caribbean spanning from mid-January to mid-March.
Archer represented West Indies at Under-19s level but was overlooked for the age-group World Cup four years ago and has since flourished on the county circuit with Sussex alongside fellow Bajan-born Chris Jordan.
He has enhanced his reputation on the domestic Twenty20 circuit, however, playing a starring role for the Hobart Hurricanes as they reached the final of last year’s Big Bash in Australia.
The Indian Premier League came calling earlier this year as he earned a bumper £800,000 contract with the Rajasthan Royals, and he duly proved his worth by finishing the tournament as the franchise’s leading wicket-taker.
Capable of exceeding 90mph, Archer is also a useful lower-order batsman and an athletic fielder, which should see him come into England’s thinking in all three formats.
The competition for places in England’s World Cup squad next summer is so fierce that he can only really be considered as a bolter but his availability gives them a welcome headache.
The rule change was agreed at an ECB board meeting, where the playing conditions for the controversial flagship 100-ball competition set to launch in the summer of 2020 were endorsed.
A new format being added to an already crowded fixture list has sharply divided opinion but the eight-team competition – which was tentatively titled ‘The Hundred’ – has moved a step closer to fruition.
Several pilot days at the back end of last season at Loughborough and Trent Bridge were commissioned in an effort to fine-tune the concept.
And an ECB statement on Thursday said: “The Cricket Committee recommendation for playing conditions in the new competition – agreed by the Board – is for; each innings to be 100 balls, a change of end after every 10 balls and an individual bowler able to deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls with a maximum of 20 per game.”