LONDON (Reuters) - England are banking on the raw pace of Jofra Archer to provide the X-factor to turn their top-ranked one-day team into
World Cup winners on home soil.
Residency rules were changed to fast-track the Barbados-born 24-year-old into the side and three matches were enough to convince the selectors to pick Archer in the squad for the tournament.
It is a tribute to Archer’s natural ability, he is also a powerful batsman and gun fielder, that few experts have questioned his inclusion ahead of left-arm seamer David Willey who had been an integral part of the team’s recent success.
“Jofra’s an absolute genius and I don’t think he’s anywhere near his full potential,” England batsman Liam Livingstone, who played with Archer for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, told the Guardian.
“Over the next three years, don’t be surprised if he’s one of the best players in the world.
“He bowls 93mph yorkers at the end of the innings, he’s a proper athlete in the field and can smack it around with the bat. For me, he’s almost the perfect cricketer,” added Livingstone, who played two T20 internationals against South Africa in 2017.
“The scary thing is that I don’t think he actually knows how good he is, but I’m sure he’ll soon realise it when he blows international teams away.”
Extreme pace is a potent weapon in any form of the game and Archer gives England something they have not had in their armoury.
Their rise up the rankings was built on a destructive batting line-up with the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler given licence to display their full range of attacking strokes.
Huge totals by the batsmen, including a world record 481 for six against Australia last year, have obliterated many opponents but the bowling has looked less convincing.
Willey was the most likely to take early wickets in conditions favourable to swing bowling but Archer’s pace and variety give captain Eoin Morgan new weapons with the ball.
Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, an explosive batsman and strike bowler himself in his pomp, is excited by the prospect.
“He (Archer) is unbelievable - I was watching him bowl the other day and I found it so frustrating that a bloke can bowl so fast with what looks like so little effort,” Flintoff told the BBC.
“He has so much control, all the tricks - slower balls, bouncers, yorkers - and he bats as well.”
Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Toby Davis