Cricket West Indies chief executive, Johnny Grave, has accused England of “poaching players” after the England and Wales Cricket Board revised their eligibility criteria to ensure Barbadian fast bowler Jofra Archer’s availability for next year’s World Cup.
And the senior CWI official expressed concern English counties could begin to lure talented Caribbean players with “long-term county contracts” with the hope of getting them into the England set-up.
One of the the most exciting prospects in world cricket, West Indies were hoping to have the 23-year-old available for their World Cup campaign in England from May 30 to July 14 next year.
However, the ECB said it had revised their eligibility rules following a meeting this week which now require players to have three years of residency instead of the seven originally stipulated for those moving after their 18th birthday.
Archer, born in Barbados to a British father, will be the most obvious beneficiary of the rule change and could result in him actually representing England on the tour of the Caribbean next year which runs from January 23 to March 10.
But Grave, who earlier this year indicated CWI hoped to secure Archer’s services, said he hoped this was not the start of a negative trend by England.
“We respect Jofra’s decision, the rules allow him to [switch country]. But on a personal level, and as an Englishman, I don’t like the concept of the ECB poaching players who have been part of another system up to the age of 19,” Grave was quoted as saying by the UK Guardian newspaper.
“I hope no other West Indian cricketers follow that path and hope it doesn’t lead to counties doing their talent ID in the Caribbean, taking our players into the public school system and then on to offering them lucrative long-term county contracts and then possibly on to playing for England.”
Interestingly, however, Archer has already indicated his desire to represent England, after being quoted as saying in an interview earlier this year that he was “angry with the West Indies.”
He played three matches for the West Indies Under-19s on Bangladesh Under-19’s tour of the Caribbean in 2013, but was subsequently left out of the squad for the World Cup staged in the United Arab Emirates the following year.
Angered by the decision, Archer headed for England to restart his career and found success at English County Sussex, where he became an instant hit.
His form with the bat and ball for the country saw him land a multi-year contract in the Australia Big Bash with Hobart Hurricanes and lucrative million-dollar deal with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
With Archer professing his desire to represent England but the then eligibility criteria requiring him to wait until 2022, Grave weighed into the debate last January, saying CWI were interested in having the player’s services.
“He could play for the West Indies tomorrow and my personal view is that, from a career point of view, he would have a better career playing for the West Indies,” Grave said in January.
“In sporting terms, 2022 is a lifetime away and he knows that the only way he can play at the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 T20 World Cup is for the West Indies.”
With the rule change, Archer is hoping to see action for England as soon as early next year when they tour the Caribbean from January 23 to March 10 for three Tests, five ODIs and three Twenty20s.