Archer takes grand finale in his stride

Updated July 13, 2019

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Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - England Nets - Merchant Taylors School, Northwood, Britain - June 23, 2019   England's Jofra Archer during nets   Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - England Nets - Merchant Taylors School, Northwood, Britain - June 23, 2019 England's Jofra Archer during nets Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

BIRMINGHAM: Jofra Archer says he will have no problems keeping his cool even during a World Cup final that comes just over two months after his England debut.

The 24-year-old Barbados-born fast bowler, whose father is English, made his international debut in May after changes to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s residency rules saw him become eligible sooner than expected.

He has now taken an England-record 19 wickets at a World Cup to help the hosts into Sunday’s final against New Zealand at Lord’s.

The Sussex paceman played a key role in England’s eight-wicket semi-final thrashing of Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday, trapping captain Aaron Finch lbw with his first ball of the match before a slower ball deceived Glenn Maxwell.

England have never won the World Cup and made the last of their three losing appearances in the final in 1992 — before Archer was born.

Archer, however, is determined the showpiece occasion at the ‘home of cricket’ will not overwhelm him. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. But the calmer you are the better you are in these situations. I just think I’ve always been like this. I try not to get nervous because then you end up doing stuff that you are not really supposed to do.

“Butterflies? Not really. Even when we were at breakfast before Australia. I may be wrong but I don’t think anyone looked nervous. Everyone just looked focused by the time we got into the ground.”

Archer’s ability to bowl at sharp pace in seemingly effortless fashion makes him a tough customer to face, particularly when he unleashes a bouncer with no change to a relaxed action.

Alex Carey misjudged such a delivery on Thursday, a short ball from Archer knocking off his helmet and cutting him on the chin before the patched-up wicket-keeper carried on.

“Sometimes you don’t always mean to hit them,” explained Archer. “It can be a wicket-taking ball or a dot ball. When it hits them you feel a little bit bad for doing it but it’s cricket.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has forecast that Archer will make a Test debut in the Ashes series against Australia that starts at Edgbaston next month.

But Archer, who has been managing a side injury in recent games, said talk of a Test call-up could wait.

“After Sunday, I’ll probably answer that but for now I’m just focusing on trying to win the final,” he said. “I’ll keep soldiering on. I have been for a few games now and it’s not got any worse. I was probably going to rest anyway but I don’t think Sussex are going to flog me right now.”

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2019