Following his snub of Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) attempts to have him suit up for the regional side, Barbadian Jofra Archer’s wish to play instead for England in the imminent World Cup has met with more objections from within the team.
With England set to announce their provisional 15-man side for the World Cup tomorrow, all-rounder Chris Woakes today said that to pick the former Barbados Under-19 cricketer would “not be morally fair”. Speaking to BBC Sport, Woakes said Archer’s inclusion would mean the exclusion of someone who had been in the team over the past two years.
“If he was to come in and someone was to miss out, it would be extremely unfortunate.
“It probably wouldn’t be fair, morally, but at the same time it’s the nature of international sport.”
He added: “We’ve been a tight-knit group for the last two to three years, played some really strong cricket, won a lot of series Apart from a personal level, I wouldn’t want to see any of my mates and team-mates miss out.”
However, Woakes conceded that Archer’s inclusion would not disrupt the England team. “Everyone would find a way to move on and we’re trying to win a World Cup for England – that’s the bigger picture.”
Even if Archer is not included in the provisional World Cup squad tomorrow, England can make changes to it until May 23. England face South Africa in the tournament opener on May 30.
Woakes described Archer, who was signed by Rajasthan Royals for BDS$2.1 million in last year’s IPL draft as a “world-class player”.
Asked whether there would be extra pressure on Archer if he was called up, Woakes said: “He might thrive off it or it might have the opposite effect. But from what everyone is hearing he might be part of the Ireland and Pakistan matches so there will be pressure on everyone to perform.
“Everyone will be looking over their shoulder and that’s a good place to be as a team because it constantly makes you want to improve and make sure you are a part of that 15.”
Woakes is not the first of England’s inner circle to question bringing in a new player to the squad.
England seamer David Willey last month questioned whether someone should just walk straight into the side. He said the team already had a group of players that had been together for three or four years and had taken the team to number one in the ODI world ratings.
“And there’s a reason for that. Whether someone should just walk in at the drop of a hat because they’re available, whether that’s the right thing, I don’t know,” he said.
Willey added: “I don’t know Jofra particularly well. I couldn’t tell you if he’s got a particularly good record in white-ball cricket, to be honest. But it [tough selection decisions] is always part of professional sport. You have to accept these things and there’s one way to make sure it’s not you [to be left out of the side]: by performing out in the middle.”
Last week, fast bowler Mark Wood said selecting Archer risked changing the “dynamic” of Eoin Morgan’s side.
However, allrounder Ben Stokes has been singing Archer’s praises, noting that his Rajasthan Royals teammate was the most “naturally gifted” bowler he had seen.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain, who played 88 ODIs between 1989 and 2003, said the selectors should pick Archer for the World Cup.
“However they go, someone is going to be very disappointed. Someone is going to have built their last three years towards playing in a home World Cup and could be left out for Archer,” Hussain said.
Hussain added that “if you can change for the better, you should” and the prospect of picking Archer did not remind him of “panicky” changes previous England sides had made shortly before tournaments.
“I’m not worried about disruption because the lads that have played alongside him in franchise cricket have seen his talent and they’re not stupid. When they see a special talent, they back him,” he said.
Archer, 24, whose father is English, has a United Kingdom passport. He qualified earlier this year after the England and Wales Cricket Board changed its residency rules.
Archer is rated one of the most valuable limited-overs players in the world because of his 90mph bowling, athletic fielding and aggressive batting. (BBC/WG)