World Cup hopeful Jofra Archer at ease after England welcome
The Sussex seamer made a long-awaited international debut against Ireland.
Jofra Archer feels at home with his new England team-mates after a warm welcome to the squad but will not complain if he fails to make the World Cup.
The Barbados-born paceman made his much-anticipated debut in Friday’s nip-and-tuck victory over Ireland, finally taking to the pitch after a three-year qualification period and a seemingly endless bout of debates around his selection.
His work on the Twenty20 franchise circuit has seen Archer touted as an X-factor cricketer who can lift the seam attack to new heights, but others have questioned whether his availability has come too late in the four-year cycle to settle in a role.
In Malahide the speculation finally gave way as he turned in eight rapid overs, frequently reaching 90mph and grabbing a maiden wicket when he sent Mark Adair’s off stump cartwheeling with a yorker.
On-field introductions complete, the 24-year-old went on to remove any doubts about his greeting away from the pitch.
David Willey, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood had all spoken about Archer’s imminent arrival in recent weeks and each made a point of telling their new colleague that anyone who sensed a frosty reception had misunderstood their words.
“It’s been very welcoming,” said Archer, who is set to line up again in Sunday’s Twenty20 against Pakistan.
“Sometimes the media can get things wrong and misquote people. Since I’ve been here I didn’t feel any malice at all. It’s a really welcoming bunch of lads.
“I knew most of the guys before coming here and it’s nice to come into a new team with some people you know. I’m here with a great team at a great time. I’m happy.”
Since I've been here I didn't feel any malice at all. It's a really welcoming bunch of lads. Jofra Archer
For now that happiness can be easily shared, but by the time national selector Ed Smith unveils the final 15-man World Cup squad on May 23, someone will be disappointed.
Willey, Wood and Woakes were named alongside Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran as the specialist seam options in the preliminary pick last month but both Archer and best friend Chris Jordan are on hand for the next six games to audition for places.
It seems certain that only five of the seven will make the cut and competition could be fierce. While Archer’s debut was a highly promising one his figures of one for 40 were outstripped by Plunkett (four for 35) and Curran (three for 35) – a clear sign that the incumbents will not be making way quietly.
Archer realises he has emerged late in the game and, though most pundits expect him to prove too attractive in the final analysis, is not banking on a breaking up the established order.
“Anyone would think about it but I’ll just try to play well and hope, I guess. I’ll try not to set my heart on it,” he said.
“Obviously the guys have been together a long time and they probably do deserve it so I won’t feel too bad if I’m left out.
“If I do well here it will probably put my case forward but I’m not focusing on the World Cup spot.”
England handed a late call-up to Archer and Jordan’s Sussex team-mate Phil Salt ahead of their trip to Cardiff. The Wales-born batsman was added as cover for the one-off T20 after Dawid Malan was ruled out with a groin injury sustained while batting in Malahide.
🚨 SQUAD UPDATE 🚨— England Cricket (@englandcricket) May 4, 2019
Sussex batsman Phil Salt has been called into the IT20 squad for the match on Sunday replacing Dawid Malan who has a muscle injury to his left groin.#EngvPak pic.twitter.com/eiTtuTWUmJ
The 22-year-old is a highly-rated prospect at Hove and hit his maiden List A century against Kent last month, but is likely to be on hand as cover.
Ben Duckett is in line to take Malan’s place in the batting order, making his short-form bow and his return to England colours for the first time since November 2016.
Ben Foakes will also debut after his match-winning 61 not out versus Ireland, looking to scoop a unique hat-trick having been named man-of-the-match in his maiden Test and ODI appearances.