England one-day captain Eoin Morgan has offered a strong endorsement of Jofra Archer’s international potential amid a more encouraging appraisal of the Barbadian fast bowler’s World Cup chances.
Morgan stated during the summer that only injury could see Archer make his squad for the tournament, albeit in answer to a hypothetical question given the 23-year-old was less than halfway through a seven-year qualification process.
But with the England and Wales Cricket Board slashing its residency criteria from January 1 next year, the highly-rated Sussex all-rounder will now be eligible in March, once he has returned from playing Twenty20 in Australia and completed a third year of 210 days in the UK.
Asked about the situation during a recent spell playing in South Africa’s Mzansi Super League, Morgan replied: “Jofra is in demand all around the world, particularly in Twenty20 cricket. One of the most exciting things about him is that he is still very young.
“He’s travelled all around the world, played Big Bash, Indian Premier League and been at Sussex for a number of years now. People talk about him playing international cricket at some stage and I think that is a fair, honest assessment of the talent that he possesses.
“He needs to spend more days in the country before he is available for selection. When that happens, we’ll cross that bridge and look at all aspects of selection – how everybody could benefit the team. We have recently selected the squad for the West Indies tour and it still looks really exciting.”
Morgan, who like Archer had to serve a then four-year qualification period despite being a British passport-holder, is now on the same page as the national selector, Ed Smith, in keeping all options open; the onus is on the squad’s fast bowlers – Mark Wood and Tom Curran in particular – to make the subject moot.
The five-match series in the Caribbean in February is England’s final outing before provisional World Cup squads are submitted on April 23 and though changes can be made in the month that follows – during which time they face Ireland and Pakistan – selecting an uncapped player would represent a huge gamble, not least in terms of squad dynamics.
Trevor Bayliss, the England head coach, recently revealed he has been using the term “World Cup favourites” around the players for some time in a bid to lessen its impact once the main event begins against South Africa at the Oval on May 30. Morgan appears comfortable with it.
He added: “We’ve found ourselves the world’s No 1 ranked team since the start of our summer and it has sat fine with us. It hasn’t affected us. The likelihood is that we will go into the World Cup as favourites, provided something significant doesn’t happen before then.
“But we are building the squad quite nicely and the guys have shown a huge amount of desire to improve their game and win matches. So it’s an exciting summer ahead for us.”