Veteran coach Dexter Toppin has no problem with Barbados-born Jofra Archer representing England in international cricket.
The 24-year-old Archer was one of the architects of England’s recent World Cup triumph with 20 wickets and bowled the defining over against New Zealand in the final last Sunday at Lord’s. Several persons have publicly expressed their disappointment over Archer playing for England since local cricket authorities had invested in him at the Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels.
But Toppin who coached Archer when he represented Barbados Youth in the Barbados Cricket Association’s Elite Division and when he played for the Barbados Under-19 team, said it was the fast bowler’s right to play for whoever he wanted to.
“It is the right of a cricketer to choose the team he wants to play for. We live in a global village and cricketers will accept what they believe is the best opportunity for them. I understand the nationalist pride our people have when it comes to cricket because the game means a lot to us. It doesn’t matter to me who Jofra plays for as long as he is being given the opportunity to use his skills, I have no problem with that,” Toppin told Barbados TODAY.
Toppin said the environment and structure in England would provide more opportunities for Archer and would have assisted in his rapid development.
“The infrastructure of their cricket is stronger than ours. Their planning is more comprehensive, and these are among some of things that would have made Jofra choose to play for England. I am not saying that if Jofra had remained in Barbados he would not have been selected for Barbados and the West Indies teams because the lad is a natural cricketer but the set-up in England is designed to propel his rapid development,” the coach said.
He recalled how the former YMPC opening batsman Adrian Jones first drew his attention to the young Archer.
“Jofra is from St Philip like Adrian and I. Even though I knew Jofra’s mother for several years, Adrian was the first person I heard speak of him. I saw Jofra for the first time in 2010 when he came to practise with Barbados Youth. From the time I saw him, I said this lad has talent. He played for Barbados Youth and batted at number seven and was probably one of the best batsmen in the team at that time,” Toppin said.
Toppin stated that when the regional Under-19 tournament was held in Barbados in 2012, Archer was not selected even though he felt he should have been in the squad.
“I felt with his talent and based on his performance for Barbados Youth he should have made the team but he was not selected. The tournament was being played in Barbados, I allowed him to practise with the team in case a player got hurt and had to withdraw from the squad he would be looked upon as a replacement.
“The following year he was selected to play in the tournament in St Kitts and began to make his mark. Jofra bowled fast in the tournament, he struck batmen on their heads and scored a polished 60 runs against the Leeward Islands. It was at this stage that he made his mark. Under- 19 cricket is the benchmark that I use as the gauge to judge young cricketers because they are playing against the best young players in the region. Jofra came through that tournament with flying colours,” he added.
The coach said he was not surprised that Archer had an immediate impact at the world’s premier cricket event.
“Jofra could bat, field and bowl from an early age. He mastered the fundamental elements of the game from the time he was a teenager, his skills would have been sharpened from playing in England and the various Twenty20 Leagues around the world. The lad is a special cricketer, I wish him a successful international career and hope he will entertain cricket fans around the world for a long time,” Toppin said.