Roland Butcher, the first black cricketer to play international cricket for England, says Barbadian fast bowler Jofra Archer will be placed under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform for his adopted country.
The highly touted Archer was included in England’s World Cup squad when it was announced yesterday. Archer made his One-Day International (ODI) debut two weeks ago and has so far played three matches for his adopted country.
The 24-year-old who represented the Barbados and West Indies Under 19 teams had not been included in England’s provisional squad. Initially, Archer was not eligible to play for England until 2022, because the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) rules stated that as he had not lived in England until after his 18th birthday he needed to complete a seven-year residency period. Archer indicated he wanted to play for England and was willing to wait until 2022.
However, last November the ECB changed its rules, reducing the eligibility regulation from seven years to three to bring it on par with the International Cricket Council statues.
Even before Archer played his first International match for England, several journalists and cricket pundits had already predicted that the exciting fast bowler would be in England’s World Cup squad.
But Butcher who played three Tests and a similar number of ODIs for England between 1980 and 1981, told Barbados TODAY that all the hype and publicity associated with Archer’s quest to play for England would place enormous pressure on him to perform. He also suggested that there would be many hoping that he fails at the international level.
“I migrated to England at the age of 14, and joined Middlesex in 1974 at the age of 20, by the time I was selected to play for England I had six years of first-class cricket under my belt. Jofra’s situation is a lot different to mine. He is already considered to be a star based on his exploits for the Hobart Hurricanes, Quetta Gladiators Rajasthan Royals and his county Sussex.
“A lot of pressure will be on Archer because he was selected with a lot of hype and expectation surrounding him. I did not attract the same level of public interest so I was able to easily settle into the [England] team. I don’t think Jofra’s situation is similar to mine,” Butcher said.
Butcher, who a few years ago arranged for Archer to have a stint with the MCC as a young professional when another Barbadian Mark Alleyne was the head coach with the Lord’s-based institution, said the young cricketer would have to hit the ground running and show the English public why he was included in the World Cup squad.
“There might be some pressure on him which he might feel, and this will not be easy for him. I hope he will be able to cope with any pressure that comes his way. There will be people who will want him to fail, but I hope he will be able to rise above that and produce his best,” Butcher said.
Quizzed as to why he believed some people would be hoping for Archer’s failure in England colours, Butcher said there would be many West Indians who were in disagreement with him choosing England over the West Indies.
“In life everyone will not be for you. Some people will be unhappy that he chose to play for England. It happened to me when I was selected to play for England. Some folks were very unhappy with the team I chose to play for. Jofra is playing in a team that is the number one ODI side in the world, and this should ease some of the pressure off him. Jofra had a reasonable debut in the few international matches he played so far and therefore his confidence should be high. He is a quality player and will make the team better, it is up to him to perform and show his class,” Butcher said.
Prior to Archer’s selection, some in the England squad including fellow fast bowlers David Willey and Chris Woakes had questioned his inclusion in a settled side already rated the number one ODI team in the world. “It’s an interesting dilemma for the captain, coaches and selectors. It’s a group of players that have been together for three or four years now that have got us to No.1. 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,” Willey said in March. Willey has now been dropped to accommodate the inclusion of the highly talented former Foundation School student.