LONDON: England selection chief Ed Smith hailed fast bowler Jofra Archer as an ‘outstanding’ talent after including him in the tournament favourites’ World Cup squad on Tuesday.
Barbados-born quick Archer only qualified for England in March and has played just three one-day internationals for the host nation of the showpiece event.
But he has now made it into the 15-man World Cup squad that Smith unveiled at Lord’s.
He edged out left-arm quick David Willey, a veteran of 46 ODIs, after both pacemen featured during England’s 4-0 series win at home to Pakistan, which concluded on Sunday.
There was also no place in the squad, captained by Eoin Morgan, for back-up spinner and batsman Joe Denly, with Hampshire slow left-armer Liam Dawson recalled as cover for Adil Rashid, who is nursing a shoulder problem.
Both Denly and Willey were named in England’s provisional squad, as was opening batsman Alex Hales.
But James Vince, who featured against Pakistan, came in after England decided against selecting Hales following his ban for recreational drug use.
England, bidding to win the World Cup for the first time, reduced their qualification period from seven years to three, a move they insisted was solely to bring them into line with the rest of the world rather than advance the selection of Archer, whose father is English.
“We’ve seen Jofra Archer play against Pakistan and we’ve seen the skills he has,” Smith told Sky Sports News. “It’s pretty straightforward. He’s an outstanding talent, that’s clear to all of us. He has pace, bounce, skill.”
Archer said he was ready for the challenge of a World Cup despite his lack of international experience.
“I’ve put it in my head I would have to wait seven years, back in December they changed it a little but I was always prepared to wait,” the 24-year-old told Sky Sports. “I think I’m ready. I’ve played a lot of cricket, I know how to deal with pressure, crowds, I think I’m ready.”
Even though Willey offered a different angle of attack as the only left-arm quick in contention, Archer’s ability to bowl at 90 miles per hour (145 kilometres per hour) and his variety of slower balls has seen him get the nod.
Willey was among those who questioned the prospect of Archer playing for England at this year’s World Cup when the Sussex bowler became eligible.
But Smith, who told Willey he had missed out on Monday, said: “I spoke to David, he’s an outstanding man. He’s very honest, dignified. He’s a very impressive man and cricketer.”
England now have two warm-up matches, against Australia on Saturday and Afghanistan on Monday, before launching the tournament against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.
Squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Moeen Ali, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019