Andrew Flintoff has urged England to throw caution to the wind and pick Jofra Archer in their final World Cup squad.
It was just a fortnight ago that Archer received his maiden full international call-up. While very much outside World Cup plans, with no mention in the provisional 15 announced on April 17, Archer had opportunities against Ireland and Pakistan, to launch a bid for one of those spots by May 23, when definite squads are submitted to the ICC.
Yet it seems across an ODI in Dublin and a T20I in Cardiff, Archer has already swayed the public – and Andrew Flintoff. Returns of 1 for 40 and 2 for 29 respectively, do not immediately slap you in the face. But the 90 mph speeds clocked by the 24-year old, along with his skill, said enough. Even with a full five-match ODI series to come against Pakistan, starting at the Oval tomorrow) Flintoff has already seen enough.
“It’s hard not to,” he answered when asked if Archer should make the final 15 for the tournament. “You ask then who I would get rid of? Anyone. I think he’s brilliant.”
“I know there’s a thing about him qualifying, but we’ve done that for a number of years. When I was a kid, we were watching Robin Smith and were waiting on Graeme Hick to play. We’ve had KP (Kevin Pietersen) so it’s not a new thing. It’s just what happens rightly or wrongly.
“But watching the lad bowl – for someone to bowl that quick so easily, with so much control, all the tricks – slower balls, bouncers, yorkers – he’s got to be in hasn’t he? He bats as well.”
Much of the noise around the dilemma of Archer’s selection has seemed to have died down, particularly after a number of his new teammates, such as Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and David Willey, have had the chance to clarify their various statements. The general gist from all was the sense that they would feel hard done by if they were dropped for Archer on the eve of the home tournament, after spending the last four years pushing England to the top of the ICC rankings and establishing the side as favourites.
Though those immediate fears have been allayed – all three mentioned were in the preliminary 15 – that could change if (or more likely, “when”) Archer does pip one of them to the post. Flintoff, who represented England in three World Cups, feels it should be a snub to be taken on the chin.
“I would make sure I would raise my game. It’s international sport, competitive and it’s a good position for England to be in that you can drop or leave out someone so good.”
Indeed, Flintoff scoffed at the notion of team morale when it was put to him that, perhaps, a teammate seeing a friend lose his spot for such a big occasion might be a bitter pill to swallow. For Flintoff, a veteran of 79 Tests, 141 ODIs and seven T20Is, that presumption is not one to put too much stock in.
“The only sides I played with that had team spirit were the successful ones. It’s a bit of a misnomer. It’s funny, because all the sides I played in, the times you want team spirit, when the chips are down, that’s when you need it, and we never had it. But when you’re winning, everyone’s happy. So parachuting someone in to help them win, that’ll enhance it.” (BBC)