Exciting Barbadian fast bowling sensation Jofra Archer could achieve his dream of playing international cricket for England as soon as next year, dealing a severe blow to West Indies’ hopes of securing his extraordinary talents.
This comes following a change in the England and Wales Cricket Board eligibility rules on Thursday which now require three years of residency – down from the seven originally stipulated for those moving after their 18th birthday.
The new rules come into effect in the New Year meaning that the 23-year-old chance now stands a chance of representing England on the tour of the Caribbean which starts in January.
England play West Indies in three Tests, five ODIs and three Twenty20s from January 23 to March 10.
However, of bigger importance will be his availability for the ICC 50-overs World Cup which will be played in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14 next year.
“It may or may not happen but I would love to debut in front of my family,” Archer posted on Twitter of a potential England debut in that first Test match in the Caribbean.
Ironically, the first Test of England’s three-match series against West Indies is set for the storied Kensington Oval in Barbados starting January 23.
Archer, born in Barbados to a British father, played three matches for the Young Windies on Bangladesh Under-19’s tour of the Caribbean in 2013, but was excluded from the squad for the World Cup staged in the United Arab Emirates the following year.
In frustration, he moved to England where he joined English County Sussex in 2015, almost instantly becoming a stand-out performer.
In fact, in his first full season with the club last year, he gathered 638 runs and took 61 wickets with his rapid pace bowling, to be adjudged the club’s Player-of-the-Year and Young Player-of-the-Year.
Sussex said in a statement later on Thursday: “The exact date of Jofra’s qualification will depend on the time he spends out of the country during the rest of 2018-19.”
“Qualifying for England has long been an aim of Jofra’s and Sussex Cricket is delighted for him that this ambition will now be realised sooner than previously envisaged.”
However, due to his Twenty20 commitments in the coming months, Archer is not set to reach the 210 days of residency required in his third year until some time in March.
He expected to feature in the Australia Big Bash for Hobart Hurricanes next month and only last year signed a multi-million dollar deal with Rajasthan Royals in the lucrative Indian Premier League.
If the move materialises as expected, it will be a huge blow to the West Indies who were also keen on securing the player’s services.
Only earlier this year, Cricket West Indies chief executive, Johnny Grave, said they were hoping to lure the all-rounder in time for the 50-overs World Cup.
“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 was quoted as saying back 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.”
However, Archer has repeatedly distanced himself from West Indies cricket, maintaining that his desire was to play for England only.
In an interview last February, his curt response to Grave’s suggestion of playing for the Caribbean side was: “No, I’m fine thanks.”
Under previous regulations, the 23-year-old would not have been set to qualify for England until 2022.